What changes in consumer habits have you observed over the last year, and how has that impacted demand for your products?
One of the most obvious trends that the pandemic brought about is the exponential growth of e-commerce. As people were forced to stay at home, they began to explore digital platforms, with its new ways of buying and selling as well as new online payment methods. This greatly accelerated the implementation of these technologies in industries. Online shopping has grown exponentially, becoming the fastest-growing industry in the world. This is no different for Unilever. We have multifunctional equipment, and we have been investing heavily in this area for the past five years. Our goal has always been to develop this industry. Our sales doubled globally via this method in 2020. Mexicans had to adjust their routines to continue their day-to-day lives indoors, which has led to important changes in people's habits. For example, in terms of hygiene, hand washing has increased by 32%. People have more time to cook, and—in one way or another—29% of people are eating more healthily. For perspective, the purchase of cooking supplies has increased by 35%. Cleaning has become essential in combating the spread of the pandemic. As a company, we brought out new products in less than three months, such as gels and sprays. We also developed antibacterial variants of already-existing major brands such as Dove. To sum up, the changes that have taken place over the last 18 months have been substantial.
What led the company to create Rinde Más, a plant-based food item?
There are two main drivers. Plant-based products are important for Unilever because they are part of our global strategy to get people to eat more healthily, while also taking care of our planet. Non-plant-based foods have a significant impact on CO2 emissions. The other driver is that Knorr Rinde Más is a product to help families—mainly Mexican—during a crisis. We looked at how we can help them save money and also eat healthily. These are the two main objectives of Knorr's Rinde Más.
In 2021, Unilever made a major investment in Mexico. Why did you choose Mexico to invest in increasing Unilever's production?
Mexico is a key country for Unilever. It is among the 10 largest operations in the world. Historically, Mexico has been a highly advantageous place to do business due to its geographical location. It offers great human capital with extremely talented people. This, together with the opening of trade, i.e., the export trade agreements that Mexico has with over 50 countries and the country's infrastructural benefits, all make Mexico an extremely attractive country for investment. In July, Unilever announced it will invest MXN5,500 million in the country to increase production capacity at its four manufacturing plants here. This will create more than 3,000 direct and indirect jobs in Mexico. Furthermore, it will help to develop SMEs in our country. We have strong faith in the future of the country and in our business in Mexico. Mexico is also a major exporting platform. Currently, we export to almost 30 countries from Mexico, and we would like to grow this list even further. This is important, not only in terms of the domestic market, but also as an exporting platform to other countries.
Unilever is seeking for this investment to eventually lead to zero-emissions operations. How do you intend to achieve this, and what is the target for this goal?
We have our sustainability plan, and we have set out clear objectives. We reinforced this plan in 2020 with some additional goals, and our objective is for our operations to be zero emissions by 2030. Zero emissions from product to point of sale by 2039 is our global commitment, and it is the same for Mexico. We have been progressing in this aspect for many years. We are confident and committed to reaching this goal through many investments. We must protect our planet.