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June 26, 2020

Unilever to expand China ice-cream plant with eye on more food products

Unilever has embarked on the expansion of an existing factory in a key market in Asia, with possible plans to widen the site's output to take in more food products.

By Dean Best

Unilever has embarked on investment into an ice-cream factory in China, with plans to widen the site’s output to take in more food products.

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What’s the forecast for the food and grocery industry?

The food and grocery sector thrived during the pandemic, largely due to the shutdown of the food service industry and the sector’s subsequent necessity, panic-induced bulk purchasing, and spending more time at home. The market has grown as a result of inflation. Consumer unwillingness to go out and socialize, and the reopening of several hospitality facilities, helped maintain the demand for groceries, particularly online, in 2021. As consumer behavior changes, we consume more food and drink at home, and inflation increases basket sizes. GlobalData predicts that the sector will continue to hold a higher share than had been predicted prior to the pandemic. This is true despite the fact that the food and grocery sector's share of overall retail will decline from its peak in 2020. This report will discuss market forecasts and key themes in the global food & grocery industry in 2022 and beyond. It covers:
  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
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The Wall’s owner has broken ground on the expansion of its operations in Taicang, a city close to Shanghai. The first phase of the project will focus on ice cream, with production from a new facility set to start in 2022. The plant will have an annual output of 150,000 tonnes of ice cream.

However, Unilever said the EUR100m (US$112.1m) investment contained plans for the operations in Taicang to go through an “upgrade” to become “Unilever China’s food production base”. In a statement, the company said it had reserved land that “may be developed to produce tea bags, seasonings, food and personal care products”.

Unilever has five plants in China manufacturing products for its food and refreshment division, items including tea, ice cream, and seasonings products.

Since 1996, when Unilever first invested in the Taicang factory, it has been expanded in 2003 and 2013. At the groundbreaking ceremony for the latest project, Rohit Jawa, executive vice president for Unilever’s operations in north Asia, said: “We will build the new Taicang manufacturing site into the world’s first ice-cream factory integrating automation, intelligence and agility. Given the scale of the climate crisis, we are making an additional commitment: net zero emissions from all our products – from the sourcing of the materials to the point of sale – by 2039, which is also a target for Taicang manufacturing site.”

Unilever said sales of Wall’s ice cream had grown at a “double-digit” rate “every year” during “the past few years”, without specifying the time-frame or the source of the data.

Jawa added: “China was among Unilever’s first markets around the globe to return to office and resume production. Unilever’s global focus in the second quarter is sustaining growth. [The] Taicang manufacturing site will be an excellent case to boost morale to deliver and restore confidence for Unilever global.”

According to research from GlobalData, the Chinese ice cream sector is expected to grow from CNY49.8bn (US$7bn) in 2018 to CNY59.3bn by 2023, at a compound annual growth rate of 3.5%.

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Free Report
img

What’s the forecast for the food and grocery industry?

The food and grocery sector thrived during the pandemic, largely due to the shutdown of the food service industry and the sector’s subsequent necessity, panic-induced bulk purchasing, and spending more time at home. The market has grown as a result of inflation. Consumer unwillingness to go out and socialize, and the reopening of several hospitality facilities, helped maintain the demand for groceries, particularly online, in 2021. As consumer behavior changes, we consume more food and drink at home, and inflation increases basket sizes. GlobalData predicts that the sector will continue to hold a higher share than had been predicted prior to the pandemic. This is true despite the fact that the food and grocery sector's share of overall retail will decline from its peak in 2020. This report will discuss market forecasts and key themes in the global food & grocery industry in 2022 and beyond. It covers:
  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.

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