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Annual Report and Accounts 2021 Highlights

We're delivering competitive growth by focusing on our Compass strategic choices.

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Find out more about our strategy and performance in 2021.

Annual Report and Accounts

We are Unilever

Our purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace.

Our strategic choices for growth

The Unilever Compass is our strategy to deliver growth that is consistent, competitive, profitable and responsible.

Our 2021 performance highlights

Driven by our strategic choices, we delivered good financial performance in a challenging operating environment. Alongside this, we made encouraging early progress against our Compass sustainability commitments – many of which run to 2025 and beyond. Our Annual Report contains further commentary on our performance.

Unilever Group

  • 52.4 bn Turnover 2020: €50.7bn
  • 4.5 % Underlying sales growth 2020: 1.9%
  • 18.4 % Underlying operating margin 2020: 18.5%
  • 6.4 bn Free cash flow 2020: €7.7bn

Improve the health of the planet

  • - 64 % Reduction in our operational GHG emissions since 2015
  • 79 % Proportion of key agricultural crops sustainably sourced
  • - 16 % Reduction in our use of virgin plastic since 2018
  • 53 % Percentage of our plastic packaging that is reusable, recyclable or compostable

Improve people’s health, confidence and wellbeing

  • 41 % Percentage of our portfolio that delivers positive nutrition
  • 63 % Percentage of our portfolio meeting WHO-aligned nutritional standards
  • 89 % Percentage of our packaged ice creams containing <22g of sugar per serving
  • 686 m People reached through our brands to improve health & wellbeing, and equity & inclusion

Contribute to a fairer, more socially inclusive world

  • 445 m Spend with diverse businesses owned by under-represented groups
  • 7 % Percentage of employees reskilled or upskilled


Underlying sales growth, underlying operating margin and free cash flow: These are non-GAAP measures. For further information about these measures, and the reasons why we believe they are important for an understanding of the performance of the business, please refer to our commentary on non-GAAP measures on pages 39 to 43 of our 2021 Annual Report and Accounts.

Sustainable sourcing: This is a new metric which reflects the revised scope of our sustainable sourcing programmes. Previously reported sustainable sourcing metrics are not comparable.

Virgin plastic: For the vast majority of products in scope, we have used the actual weight of plastic packaging sold to calculate this metric. For the remainder, we estimate the weight using the average packaging weight of similar products. For our 2018 baseline, we calculated the weight of plastic packaging sold for around half of products in scope. For the remainder, we estimated the weight of packaging sold by extrapolation using sales volumes.

Nutritional standards: This metric was subject to external independent limited assurance by PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP (‘PwC’) in 2021. For PwC's 2021 Limited Assurance report and the 2021 Unilever Basis of Preparation for assured metrics see Independent assurance .


Legal notice related to material on this page

The material on this Unilever Annual Report and Accounts Highlights webpage (the "Material") relates to the year ended 31 December 2021 and is provided for general information only. The Material does not (i) form part of the Unilever Annual Report and Accounts 2021 or Annual Report on Form 20-F 2021; or (ii) contain sufficient information to allow as full an understanding of the results and the state of affairs of Unilever as the Unilever Annual Report and Accounts 2021 or Annual Report on Form 20-F 2021.

As such this Material should not be relied upon or used as the basis for making voting or investment decisions without consulting the full Unilever Annual Report and Accounts 2021 or Annual Report on Form 20-F 2021 and other more complete or up-to-date sources of information. Information relating to Unilever's results for current and prior periods do not necessarily reflect future trends, nor do they provide indicators of results for like periods.

This Material is not intended to be and shall not be deemed to be an invitation or inducement to invest in or otherwise deal in any securities of the Unilever Group or in any other investment, nor to provide or constitute any advice or recommendation in connection with any investment decision, nor to constitute an offer to provide services in any jurisdiction in which the Unilever Group is not permitted to do so under any applicable law or regulation.

Cautionary statement

This document may contain forward-looking statements, including ‘forward-looking statements’ within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as ‘will’, ‘aim’, ‘expects’, ‘anticipates’, ‘intends’, ‘looks’, ‘believes’, ‘vision’, or the negative of these terms and other similar expressions of future performance or results, and their negatives, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements also include, but are not limited to, statements and information regarding the Unilever Group’s (the ‘Group’) emissions reduction targets and other climate change related matters (including actions, potential impacts and risks associated therewith). These forward-looking statements are based upon current expectations and assumptions regarding anticipated developments and other factors affecting the Group. They are not historical facts, nor are they guarantees of future performance or outcomes.

Because these forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, there are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Among other risks and uncertainties, the material or principal factors which could cause actual results to differ materially are: Unilever’s global brands not meeting consumer preferences; Unilever’s ability to innovate and remain competitive; Unilever’s investment choices in its portfolio management; the effect of climate change on Unilever’s business; Unilever’s ability to find sustainable solutions to its plastic packaging; significant changes or deterioration in customer relationships; the recruitment and retention of talented employees; disruptions in our supply chain and distribution; increases or volatility in the cost of raw materials and commodities; the production of safe and high quality products; secure and reliable IT infrastructure; execution of acquisitions, divestitures and business transformation projects; economic, social and political risks and natural disasters; financial risks; failure to meet high and ethical standards; and managing regulatory, tax and legal matters. A number of these risks have increased as a result of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this document. Except as required by any applicable law or regulation, the Group expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the Group’s expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.

This document also contains data on the Group’s Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Scope 1 and 2 emissions data is relatively easy to gather as it relates to emissions from the Group’s own activities and supplied heat, power and cooling. Scope 3 emissions relate to other organisations’ emissions and is therefore subject to a range of uncertainties, including that data used to model lifecycle footprints is typically industry-standard data rather than relating to individual suppliers; lifecycle models such as the Group’s cover many but not all products and markets; and international standards and protocols governing emissions calculations and categorisations evolve, as do accepted norms regarding terminology such as carbon neutral and net zero. As value chain emissions data improves, shifting over time from generic modelled data to more specific data, the data reported in this document is likely to evolve.

Further details of potential risks and uncertainties affecting the Group are described in the Group’s filings with the London Stock Exchange, Euronext Amsterdam and the US Securities and Exchange Commission, including in the Annual Report on Form 20-F 2021.

This document is not prepared in accordance with US GAAP and should not therefore be relied upon by readers as such. The Annual Report on Form 20-F 2021 is separately filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and is available on our corporate website.

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