New Internationalist

Unilever - The Family Business

March 1980

It has over 800 firms operating in five continents and is the twelfth largest company in the world. Unilever’s biggest areas of activity are in food and detergents, but it has an astonishingly wide range of products and services. Retaining subsidiary names helps give the appearance of competition and defuses nationalist resentment against foreign business. A report on one invisible empire being built around the global family.

LET US visit a supermarket … Take a trolley and fill it, buy the provisions for your family and without realising it everything you buy, from baked beans to fish fingers, orange squash, chicken, margarine, oysters, cheese, sausages, peas, salmon, toothbrushes, razor blades, hairdye, heavy duty detergent soap, perfume, soup, frozen suppers and ice cream… every item comes from the same company. In Africa you could add beer and beautifully printed cotton, furniture, a suit, a boat and a car; in Denmark coffee; in America tea; in Morocco a Landrover; the ticket for a trip on the river in Nigeria, or a sack of food for your chickens or bullocks or pigs in Brittany. More and more people the world over use what one company produces every day of their lives: baby milk and baby food and baby powder to begin with and so through 70 years to the last spoonful of chicken broth. The walls of your nursery may be covered with vinyl, and you may breathe your last in one of the beds they made. If you have a television set you can hardly spend a day anywhere in the world without watching and listening to them, for they are the biggest advertisers on earth . Yet you will in all likelihood never hear the firm’s name . . .’

An extract from ‘The Chairman is Gad’ by G. Temple published by Anthony Blond


Unilever Australia (Holdings) Pty. Beacon Research Co. Pty. W.H. Burford & Sons E.0. L Pty.
Golden Nut & Easyspread Margarine Pty.
Hit Icastle Pty.
Interpack Australia Pty. J. Kitchen & Sons Ply. Lever & Kitchen Pty. Rexona Pty.
Rosella Foods Pty. Streets Ice Cream Pty. John West Foods
World Brand Proprietary

A & W. Food Services of Canada
Hart Chemical Hygrade Foods Inc. Lever Detergents Thomas J’. Lipton, Canada Monarch Fine Foods Co. Myriad Detergents Newfoundland Margarine Co. Success Wax
Woodbridge Moulded Produc McGarry & Co.
Shopsy’s Foods


African Container Express Alcock (Peroxide) Associated Feed Manufacturers
J. & E. Atkinson Audio Security Austin Packaging Group BOCM Silcock Batchelors Catering Supplies
Batchelors Foods Birds Eye Foods Birmingham Chemical Co. Blackfriars Insurances Britkh Edible Oils
The British Oil & Cake Mills C.W.A.. Holdings Ceytee. (Lgndon) . . Commercial Plastics Industries
Fablon Ltd.
Trans Chemicals Ltd. Craigmillar (BEOL) Ltd. Joseph Crosfield & Sans Domestos Ltd.
Elida Gibbs Ltd. Erasmic Co.
Ford & Slater Holdings General Freight Co. D. & W. Gibbs Ltd. Glycerine Ltd. Kennedy’s (Builders Merchants)
Surrey Iron Co.
Leicester Office Equipment Lever Brothers Lincolnshire Trout Farms Lipton
Liverpool Maritime Terminals Ltd.
Mac Fisheries (Export) Mac Fisheries
Robert B. Massey & Co. Richard Manes & Co. Mattessons Meats
Midland Poultry Holdings New City Office Equipments Palm Line
A.& F. Pears Pepsodent
Pin-up Cold Perm-Wave Premier Supermarkets Price’s Chemicals Richmond Sausage Co. Smethursts Foods Thames Board Mills United Africa Company Holdings U.K. Compound Feeds Unifreeze
Urney Chocolate (UK)
Van den Berghs and Jurgens Vinyl Products
T. Wall & Sons
The Wall’s Meat Co. John West Foods Workington Sawmills

Ghana Consolidated Machinery & Trading Co. Juapong Textiles

Hindustan Lever

Lipton (Jamaica)

East Africa Industries

Lever Brothers (Malaysia)

Unilever New Zealand

African Timber & Plywood (Nigeria)
Guinness (Nigeria)
Kingsway Stores of Nigeria Nigerian Breweries
United Africa Co. of Nigeria

Lever’s Pacific Plantations

Lever Brothers (Ceylon)

Hughes Bros. Chocolate Old Dutch Confections The Lucan Dairies Premier Ices

Niger Francaise

Maclaine Watson Tea (Indonesia)

Lever Brothers Pakistan Lipton (Pakistan)

Unilever-lndustrias Unisola

Hudson & Knight Lever Brothers Lever’s Stock Feeds PITCO
Van den Bergh and Jurgens T. Wall & Sons

Van den Bergh’s Fabrieken Indonesia
Binfurst Autotransport R. Boivin et Cie, France Gibbs, Sweden
Gibbs, Finland
Good Humour Corporation, USA H.B. Chocolate, Eire
Indus Lever, Chile Lever Brothers Co. USA Thomas J. Lipton Inc. USA Margarinefabriek Groningen Margarine-Union, W. Germany Mavibel International, Netherlands Antilles Olhandel-und Transport -Gesellschaft, W. Germany Philippine Refining Co., Philippines -
La Roche aux Fees, France The Utrecht Export Co. Griendt Brothers
4P Golienfabrik, W. Germany Zwanenberg’s Fabrieken Iglo Feinfrost
Union Deutsche Lebens­mittelwerke

This feature was published in the March 1980 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 085

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