Growth in developed markets was up 4.2%, while 11.9% was achieved in emerging markets. Pricing was up 4.7%.
In addition to the Infinity launch in Europe, Unilever also launched its Magnum brand in North America, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Aside from ice cream, the firm highlighted the growth of its spreads and dressings and savoury categories. According to a statement from the firm: “Liquid margarine ranges are doing well and the growth of the Hellmann’s brand continues to be driven by the campaign to encourage new uses of mayonnaise.”
In the savoury category, Unilever reported growth in Knorr baking bags and the extension of the jelly bouillon technology into gravy.
Darren Shirley and Clive Black, analysts with Shore Capital, described the underlying sales growth as “very strong”.
“We believe many Unilever watchers were also focused on input costs and the potential impact of the increase in a number of commodity prices since the preliminary results reported in early February,” they said.
“It is therefore no surprise that management is guiding to slightly higher cost pressure than the mid single-digit guidance from February, with the increased pressure coming from the higher crude oil and edible oil prices.”
Shirley and Black concluded that Unilever – with its strong innovation pipeline – was well placed to benefit from strong consumer growth in developing economies. In addition to food, with the planned launch of hair care products in the US and Europe, Unilever was “on the front foot”, they said.
Paul Polman, Unilever ceo, said: “Emerging markets, now 56% of the business, have again delivered strong growth. While the good performance in developed markets was against a weak prior year comparator, our performance is pleasing given struggling economies, continued fragile consumer confidence and competitor activity.”