‘A testament to agility’: Unilever ANZ begins local production of Lifebuoy to cope with demand

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever ANZ has moved production of Lifebuoy products back to Australia. ©Unilever
Unilever ANZ has moved production of Lifebuoy products back to Australia. ©Unilever

Related tags Unilever Australia New zealand

Unilever ANZ has moved production of Lifebuoy products back to Australia to help meet the local demand for products such as hand sanitisers in the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The firm redirected its existing deodorant production facilities in the state of New South Wales to manufacture the products.

“We’re responding to government calls to action to increase supply of essential products by rapidly innovating and re-directing some of our Australian manufacturing,”​ said Nicky Sparshott, CEO of Unilever Australia and New Zealand.

Sparshott told CosmeticsDesign-Asia ​that the firm’s ability to move so quickly demonstrated its ability to be agile under pressure.

“Our ability to re-direct production capacity so quickly to introduce a completely new brand to our lines is testament to this agility and I’m really proud of what the team has been able to deliver,” ​she said.

To further combat the fight against COVID-19, the firm has developed a new aerosol hand sanitiser under the Lifebuoy brand. The new 150ml bottle contains 70% alcohol and claims to kill 99.99% of germs.

“We are acutely focused on ensuring business continuity and increasing production of new products such as the Lifebuoy sanitiser, where possible at this challenging time,”​ said Sparshott.

The company declined to reveal the production capacity of the facility, but Sparshott said it endeavours to produce as much as is viable.

“As with all manufacturers during this time, Unilever’s capacity to produce is dependent on the availability of raw materials and the health of our people to run the production lines… It’s our ambition to produce as much of our products as we can, within these constraints.”

She added: “We’ll continue to monitor the market closely and ensure we have the agility to respond as best as we can to what our consumers are looking for.”

Unilever donates hand sanitisers and more

The sanitiser will be made available to the wider public and by the end of May on the shelves of leading supermarkets.

However, the company will first be donating 150,000 cans of the new aerosol hand sanitiser, valued at over A$1m ($644,860) to Foodbank Australia for distribution across Australia and New Zealand.

Unilever will also donate another A$1m worth of essential homecare, personal care and food products to Foodbank to distribute across Australia, including leading household brands Comfort, Sunsilk, Love Beauty and Planet, Simple and Continental.

“We believe we have a social, medical, and moral obligation to make hand hygiene readily available,” ​said Sparshott.

Additonally, the company said it would support Foodbank’s contingency staff cost as volunteer numbers have been greatly reduced as the result of COVID-19 measures.

According to Foodbank, it has seen a 50% increase in demand for food and grocery relief due to job loss and small business closures across the country.

This makes donations of items such as personal care and cleaning products “critical”,​ said Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey.

“We are so grateful for this incredibly generous donation of much-sought-after sanitiser and other essential household items from Unilever.”

Sparshott concluded: “We know our brands can play a big role in bringing both hygiene and comfort to everyday life, particularly while we all spend more time than ever at home. Whether it be providing a nourishing meal for the family, or keeping the home clean, Unilever is proud to play its part in helping Australian and New Zealand families stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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