Unilever is experiencing continued weakness in spreads

Unilever is experiencing continued weakness in spreads

A poor summer and continued weakness in the spreads category have contributed to a decline in turnover for Unilever during the first nine months of the year.

The Knorr maker said group turnover fell 4.3% to EUR36.3bn (US$45.9bn) in the period. Underlying sales for the nine months were however up 3.2%.

Unilever's foods segment saw underlying sales fall 0.5% for the nine months as it continues to face a decline in spreads. The firm said it gained "significant market share in margarine but this was not sufficient to offset the overall decline of the category".

In refreshments, Unilever said a "strong start to the year" was dampened by a poor summer across Europe. Underlying sales growth for the nine months was up 3.5% but for the quarter was flat at 0.5%.

While overall, the group reported underlying sales growth of 2.1% for the third quarter, the figure missed analyst expectations of 3.7% according to a company-compiled consensus. Weakness in emerging markets and a negative currency effect were said to have contributed. 

Shares in Unilever fell 2.5% to GBP24.68 per share at 09.43 BST today (23 October).