Unilever Revenues Dipped from 2017-2019, Drop Again in 2020?

UL: Unilever logo

As per Trefis estimates, the coronavirus pandemic could indeed support Unilever’s (NYSE: UL) personal and home care revenues, but a drop in Foods and Refreshments revenue could cause total revenue to fall. The company’s revenue comprises of 3 segments i.e. Personal Care, Foods & Refreshments, and Home Care. Unilever’s revenue has dropped from $60.3 billion in 2017 to $58.2 billion in 2019, down around 3.5% in 2 years. Despite growth across personal and home care segments, the Food & Refreshments segment saw revenue drop from $25.2 billion to $21.6 billion. Further, we believe that given the economic slowdown and the current lockdown situation, Unilever’s non-essential Foods and Refreshment products such as packaged ice creams and bottled cold beverages are just not a priority for people. This could lead to a further drop in revenue for the already struggling segment, and outweigh the revenue growth anticipated in the home care and personal care segments. For the year 2020, Trefis estimates a further drop of 3.5% in total revenue.

We expect Unilever’s revenue to drop from $58.22 billion in 2019 to $57.42 billion in 2021 as detailed in our interactive dashboard, Unilever Revenues:  How Does UL Make Money? 

Company Overview and General Reference

  • Unilever is a market leader in mass skin care products and deodorants, and one of the largest players in daily hair care products.
  • Furthermore, Unilever is also a leading manufacturer of ice cream and tea beverages.
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Overview of Company Revenues

Unilever reported $58.2 billion in total revenues for full-year 2019. This includes 3 operating segments:

  • Personal Care: $24.5 billion in 2019 (~42% of total revenues). Unilever’s largest division, which includes five global brands with turnover of $1 billion or above, namely Axe, Dove, Lux, Rexona, and Sunsilk, as well as other household names such as TRESemmé, Signal, Lifebuoy, and Vaseline.
  • Foods & Refreshments: $21.6 billion in 2019 (~37% of total revenues). Includes the foods, ice cream, and beverages categories. This segment is home to five global brands with a turnover of $1 billion or above, namely Knorr, Hellmann’s, Magnum, Lipton, and Heart, as well as other famous global brands including Brooke Bond and Ben & Jerry’s.
  • Home Care: $12.1 billion in 2019 (~21% of total revenues). Home to 2 global brands with turnover of $1 billion or above, namely Dirt is Good (eg Omo and Persil) and Surf. Other leading brands include Comfort, Domestos, Sunlight, Cif, Seventh Generation as well as air and water purification brands Blueair, Pureit, and Truliva.

Personal Care segment will remain the highest contributor to revenue

  • Revenue from Personal Care segment has increased from $23.2 billion in 2017 to $24.5 billion in 2019.
  • By 2021, the division revenue is projected to grow to $25.2 billion.
  • This growth is expected to come despite a ~$800 million estimated drop in Unilever’s revenue.
  • Higher revenues are likely to be derived from an increased need for Unilever’s personal care and hygiene products.

Foods & Refreshments division to weigh down total revenue 

  • Revenue from Foods & Refreshments division has decreased from $25.2 billion in 2017 to $21.6 billion in 2019.
  • By 2021, the division revenue is projected to drop to $19.8 billion.
  • The Foods & Refreshments segment has already been struggling over the past 2 years, and the non-essential nature of products offered by this division, could further drag down segment revenue to under $20 billion.


  • Spread of coronavirus and the resultant lockdown could prove to be mixed news for a company like Unilever, which has a mix of essentials and non-essentials.
  • The next few quarters will tell the true impact of the COVID crisis on Unilever’s revenues across all segments.

While Unilever’s revenue could drop over the next couple of years, here’s an analysis of how Colgate-Palmolive, another consumer goods company, has performed during the current crisis.

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