Unilever has denied secretly cutting its workforce by 10% over the last 10 months as part of a drive to improve efficiently, as claimed by the Sunday Times newspaper, but does acknowledge that it has made headway on planned cutbacks.

The UK newspaper said that the loss of the 25,000 jobs is far greater than so far recognised and took the group's workforce to 200,000 under the 'One Unilever Programme'.

Unilever spokesperson Trevor Gorin told just-food that outsourcing had continued as planned, with the vast majority of jobs cuts resulting from the sale of two India-based facilities, but not as many as 25,000.

"It is not a secret, to the contrary we have made efforts to talk openly about top level management reductions.

"We have reduced job numbers in the past few years as we set out to tighten up and simplify the organisation. When Patrick Cescau took over as group chief executive he made the line from top level to on-the-ground management much sharper, and this has got the company growing."