issue 172 - June 1987
Unilever must spread its interests even more widely in the 1980s if it is to maintain its position as the world's biggest food and household goods business. Reaching across the globe means no longer being so heavily dependent on Europe and Africa, where the markets are largely stagnant due to poverty, stiff competition or low population growth.
Priority is being given to the US and Asia - where the biggest economic growth is taking place. in Asia, Unilever is expanding most in Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. In Australia and India, Unilever has already built up considerable operations: it leads the Australian market in margarine for example.
There is a price to be paid for this global realignment. Expansion into targeted markets doesn't provide many jobs - It usually involves high levels of automation and low levels of employment. And in order to raise capital to finance Its so-called 'streamilning', Unilever has been selling businesses, ciosing factories and reducing Its workforce, especially in Europe.