Unilever sales hit by emerging markets slowdown

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Anglo-Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever, seen as a bellwether for global consumer spending, warned on Tuesday of slowdown in sales growth brought on by weakened demand in emerging markets.

"Unilever has seen a weakening in the market growth of many emerging countries in the third quarter and now expects underlying sales growth of 3.0 to 3.5 percent, as opposed to a predicted 5.0 percent," Unilever spokesman Flip Dotsch told AFP.

"The emerging market slowdown has accelerated as a result of significant currency weakening," Unilever added in a statement.

The currencies of Brazil and India have been under serious pressure due to expectations that the US Fed will wind down its stimulus programme while growth has been slowing even in China's powerhouse economy.

These emerging markets contribute to more than half of Unilever's sales, as the owner of Dove soaps and other common household brands shifted its attention away from developed markets which Unilever said "remain flat to down."

Unilever's first half profits for 2013 had jumped by 14 percent, while sales were up 0.4 percent to 25.5 billion euros (S$43 billion), mainly on the back of growth in emerging markets like China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan.