Unilever is a huge company making everything from processed foods to laundry detergent.

It is the world's largest manufacturer of sauces and salad dressings and its brands include Hellmann's. Its other top products include Ben & Jerry's ice cream, PG Tips tea and Dove soaps. In addition Unilever also operates tea and palm oil plantations. 


Worst Ethical Consumer rating for cocoa supply chain management. 

The company stated:

"We aim to source all our cocoa from sustainable sources by 2020. The main countries we source our cocoa from are Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Our key cocoa suppliers are Barry Callebaut, Cargill and ADM. Cocoa accounts for approximately 4% of our total volume of agricultural raw materials. We buy around 1% of global production, 95% of which is used in our ice creams such as Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum. For Magnum, we committed to sourcing 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa by the end of 2015 – and reached 98% by then."

While Unilever appeared to be taking steps in the right direction i.e. it worked with the Rainforest Alliance and had a public deadline to certifiy all cocoa products. In order to acheive a best Ethical Consumer rating it needed to have 100% of its cocoa products certified. This was because of the inherent problems with child labour being used in Western Africa.


In December 2016 Ethical Consumer downloaded Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan 2014, and Summary of Progress 2015. The 2014 plan showed a clear understanding of the company's key environmental impacts. It had some clear targets which included:

  • By 2020 halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of its products as the business grows. 
  • Source 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020.
  • Halve the waste associated with the disposal of products by 2020.
  • Halve the greenhouse gas impact of products across the life cycle by 2020.
  • Halve the water associated with the consumer use of our products by 2020

As Unilever showed a reasonable understanding of its key environmental impacts, presented at least two quantified future environmental reduction targets and had key performance data independently verified, Unilever received Ethical Consumer's best rating for its Environmental Reporting.


According to the PETA website viewed in April 2015, Unilever was on a list of companies that had not eliminated tests on animals for their entire line of cosmetics and household products.

In February 2017 Ethical Consumer viewed the 2016 'The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare' (BBFAW) report.  In total, 99 companies were assessed according to their published information and ranked from Tier 1 (indicating companies that have taken a leadership position), down to Tier 6 (where animal welfare does not appear to be on the business agenda).

Unilever was ranked as 'Tier 2', and did not appear to have progressed since the since the 2013 BBFAW report. Ethical Consumer felt that more progress was needed in terms of animal welfare policy and practice. It therefore lost a mark under the Animal Rights category.


In 2016 Unilever was a member of two corporate lobby groups that lobby for free trade at the expense of the environment, animal welfare, human rights or health protection. These were; the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Economic Forum.

Image: Unilever
  • Ethical Consumer Best Buy: No
  • Boycotts: No

Company information

Company Ethiscore

Company Address:

Unilever House
100 Victoria Embankment
United Kingdom

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Associated brands

  • Hellmann's
  • Lipton
  • Comfort
  • Signal
  • Rexona
  • Sunsilk
  • PG Tips
  • Walls
  • Ben & Jerry's
  • Sure
  • Lynx
  • Vaseline
  • Persil
  • Simple
  • Dove
  • VO5
  • TRESemme
  • Bedhead
  • Cif
  • Pukka Herbs
  • Mentadent
  • Radox
  • Surf
  • Pears
  • Timotei
  • Lux
  • Lifebuoy
  • Domestos
  • St Ives
  • Ponds
  • Lyons
  • Magnum
  • Solero
  • Carte D'Or
  • Signal White Now
  • The Vegetarian Butcher
  • Ren Clean Skincare

Ownership structure

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