The Latest on Unilever’s Ice Cream Spin-Off

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Unilever Advances Plans for Ice Cream Business Spin-Off by 2025

Introduction to Unilever’s Strategic Business Decision

Unilever, the global consumer goods giant, is moving forward with plans to spin off its ice cream division by the end of 2025, signaling a significant restructuring aimed at refining its business operations and enhancing shareholder value. This decision, initially announced in March, was reaffirmed during the company’s recent quarterly earnings call, where the spin-off was highlighted as the preferred route, although other options remain on the table for consideration.

The Rationale Behind the Spin-Off

Strategic Focus and Structural Benefits

Unilever’s Chief Financial Officer, Fernando Fernandez, outlined that the decision to separate the ice cream business is more reflective of Unilever’s current corporate structure than the performance of the ice cream segment itself. He noted that the ice cream business is markedly different from other company divisions in terms of margin structure, capital intensity, cash conversion, and distribution channels. This includes the unique demands of a cold chain system and low synergies with the broader manufacturing, distribution, and R&D operations of Unilever.

Enhanced Operational Efficiency

Fernandez elaborated that this move would lead to a simpler and more focused Unilever, predicting that the separation would facilitate faster growth, improved structural margins, and enhanced returns on assets and cash conversion. By concentrating on core areas where it can more effectively leverage its scale and capabilities, Unilever aims to become more agile and competitive in the fast-moving consumer goods sector.

Financial Performance and Market Dynamics

First Quarter Insights

In the first quarter of 2024, Unilever reported a modest sales increase of 1.4% to €15 billion ($16.05 billion), up from €14.8 billion ($15.8 billion) in the corresponding period of the previous year. This growth reflects the company’s ability to navigate a complex global market environment effectively.

Sector-Specific Performance

The Nutrition business unit saw a sales rise of 3.7% to €3.4 billion, with pricing contributing significantly to growth despite a slight decline in volume. This unit’s performance is particularly noteworthy as it comes at a time of substantial assortment rationalization and later stages of commodity inflation impacts.

The Ice Cream business unit, earmarked for the spin-off, also showed positive momentum with sales amounting to €1.8 billion, marking a 2.3% increase. This growth was primarily driven by price adjustments in response to rising costs for key ingredients like cocoa and sugar, though it was somewhat offset by a reduction in volume.

Strategic Pricing Adjustments

The in-home segment of the ice cream business remained stable, while the out-of-home segment experienced mid-single-digit growth, primarily through strategic price increases to offset volume declines. These adjustments are indicative of Unilever’s proactive measures to manage cost pressures while maintaining market competitiveness.

Looking Ahead: Unilever’s Strategic Outlook

2024 Growth Projections

Unilever has maintained its growth forecast for 2024, expecting sales growth excluding acquisitions, divestments, or currency impacts to be in the range of 3% to 5%. This projection underscores the company’s confidence in its operational adjustments and market strategies designed to foster sustainable growth.

Future Implications of the Spin-Off

The planned spin-off of the Ice Cream business is a pivotal development for Unilever, promising to reshape its business landscape significantly. It is anticipated to not only streamline Unilever’s operations but also allow the new standalone company to thrive in a focused business environment. This strategic realignment is expected to unlock value for shareholders by allowing more tailored strategies and investments in innovation specific to the ice cream market.


Unilever’s decision to spin off its ice cream business by 2025 marks a strategic pivot designed to enhance operational efficiencies and shareholder value. As Unilever continues to adapt to market demands and refocus its business model, the ice cream spin-off is poised to become a key element of its strategy to optimize its product portfolio and strengthen its market position. The forthcoming years will be crucial as Unilever navigates this transition, setting the stage for a new chapter in its expansive business narrative.

Related: Unilever “Adjusts” It’s ESG Goals

Source: Food Business