HUL- Leading Responsible Growth
Hindustan Unilever Chairman, Mr. Harish Manwani addresses shareholders at the company’s 78th AGM.
In the speech titled ‘Leading Responsible Growth,’ Mr. Manwani said, “Rising consumption must be met with responsible growth. Responsible growth means growth that respects the social and economic benefits and also recognises the environmental constraints we face today. Tackling this with urgency and priority makes not just good common sense but good business sense.”
Speaking about the consumption boom in markets like India and China, Mr. Manwani drew attention to the fact that billions of people across the world lack access to basic everyday needs such as clean drinking water, good nutrition and basic hygiene. He said, “We cannot wish away consumption. There is nothing we can or should do to limit the aspirations of a large mass of people who are entering or will enter the consumption cycle. The vision has to be to create a future in which people improve the quality of their lives without increasing their environmental impact.”
Mr. Manwani spoke about the new vision of Unilever to develop new ways of doing business with the aim of doubling the size of the company while reducing its environmental impact. He spoke about the launch of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan which sets out Unilever’s commitment to the agenda of leading responsible growth.
The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan has three big goals: To halve the environmental footprint of our products across the value chain, to source 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably and to help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.
Mr. Manwani spoke about the need for companies to take responsibility for their extended value chains, which go beyond their own direct impact of factories, offices and transport. He said, “Our research shows that 68% of the environmental impact of our products is generated during consumer use. So we embarked on an end-to-end programme committed to minimising our environmental impact across the value chain from the sourcing of raw materials all the way through to the energy and water needed by people to cook, clean and wash with our brands.”
Speaking about the need for companies to involve consumers in this agenda, he said, “We will only succeed if we motivate the billions of consumers to take the small achievable actions that add up to collectively make a big difference and enable us all to live more sustainably.” On any given day, two billion people use Unilever products across the world and two-thirds of all Indians use Hindustan Unilever products.
Referring to the rich heritage of 78 years in India, Mr. Manwani spoke about the commitment of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) to the agenda of responsible growth. He spoke about the handwashing campaign of Lifebuoy in India. Since 2002, the project has reached over 135 million people in India to educate them about basic hygiene habits. He also spoke about how HUL was investing to supplement diets for millions of consumers including those at the bottom of pyramid. He gave the recent example of the launch of Brooke Bond Sehatmand, a tea with vitamins, to address the nutrition needs of low-income consumers.
Mr. Manwani spoke about how the challenge of water scarcity facing India and the potential of this issue to derail the economic and social development of the country. He spoke about the work done by Hindustan Unilever in the area of water conservation for more than a decade. HUL has initiated projects in several states that will help conserve more than 50 billion litres of water by 2015. More recently, HUL launched the India Water Body, an initiative aimed to drive water security for the nation through the public-private partnership model.
Mr. Manwani spoke about how HUL has fully embraced the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan commits that by 2020, 100% of Unilever’s tea across the world will be sustainably sourced. This includes tea estates in India as well. So far nine tea estates in the Nilgiris and 35 tea estates in Assam have been certified and certification is being sought for a further 33 tea estates in Assam and Darjeeling. Similarly, HUL has embarked on sustainable sourcing of tomatoes in India. It works with smallholder farmers in Karnataka and Punjab and guarantees the purchase of produce and the facility to pick up the produce directly from farms. Through the execution of good agricultural practices, farmers have been able to get significant savings in water, labour, pesticide and fertilizer as well as increase the yields. All of these mean a lesser burden on the environment, a better return for the farmer and a sustainable means of producing more to meet rising demand.
Referring to HUL’s commitment to enhancing livelihoods, Mr. Manwani spoke about Project Shakti through which the Company has enhanced the livelihoods of 45,000 women entrepreneurs across the country. Mr. Manwani elaborated on the recently launched Shaktimaan initiative under which men of the Shakti families are given bicycles to cover surrounding villages to increase distribution and sales. The company now has over 23,000 Shaktimaans across the country, extending its rural direct reach as well as enhancing the income of Shakti families.
About Hindustan Unilever Limited
Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is India's largest Fast Moving Consumer Goods company, touching the lives of two out of three Indians. HUL’s mission is to “add vitality to life” through its presence in over 20 distinct categories in Home & Personal Care Products and Foods & Beverages. The company meets everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene, and personal care, with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life.
Hindustan Unilever Limited
B. D. Sawant Marg,
Chakala, Andheri (E),
Mumbai - 400 099.
Hindustan Unilever Limited,
B. D. Sawant Marg,
Chakala, Andheri (E),
Mumbai - 400 099.
T: +91 22 39832429 (Prasad Pradhan)
F: +91 22 39832413 (R Ram)