Blog: Dean BestUnilever, Danone, Kerry talk emerging markets at CAGE

Dean Best | 30 March 2011

The potential of emerging markets has been a hot topic at the CAGE investment conference in London, with food makers keen to highlight their presence in the developing world to analysts.

Presenting yesterday (29 March), Unilever, Danone and Kerry Group all outlined their position in emerging markets - and their desire to grow their presence.

Unilever is looking for opportunities to expand its food business in emerging markets but, ultimately, it is home and personal care that the company sees providing more growth in the developing world.

In some ways, the expectations for home and personal care, or HPC, in emerging markets mirrors Unilever's strategy worldwide. CEO Paul Polman said Unilever expects 75% of its global growth to come from HPC.

To suggest that Unilever is putting less focus on food per se would be misguided but, in some food categories, the company is finding it difficult to drive growth.

Polman's comments to just-food about Unilever's strategy for its spreads business had analyst Andy Smith claiming that the company was managing the unit to "optimise cash flow - not growth".

Danone chairman and CEO Franck Riboud used part of his presentation at CAGE to talk about the benefits of its venture in Russia - and said its tie-up with Unimilk would assist the Activia maker in serving cities across the country.

Riboud, however, was more illuminating when discussing another emerging market for Danone - the US. Per capita consumption of fresh dairy products remains low in the US and Riboud said more competition was needed to drive the category forward.

Kerry Group, the Irish consumer foods and ingredients business, meanwhile, said it was keen to boost its presence in emerging markets.

A quarter of revenues from Kerry's ingredients division - which generates three-quarters of the company's trading profit - come from emerging markets and CFO Brian Meighan said the business was keen to grow in the developing world - through M&A and organically.


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