By Michael Susin

 

Unilever PLC said Thursday that it has launched a new venture with U.S.-based biotech company Genomatica to develop an alternative product to palm oil and fossil-fuel derived ingredients that are used in everyday cleaning and personal-care products.

The Anglo-Dutch multisector retailer--which owns consumer brands such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Dove soap--and Genomatica are investing $120 million between them in the venture. The companies also expect other investors to join them.

The decision comes amid increasing inflationary pressures on raw materials and supply-chain issues. When reporting first-quarter earnings, Unilever said it had increased prices by an average of 8.3%. Those higher prices resulted in some softening of consumer demand, with overall volumes declining 1%, it said at the time.

"This new venture will sit at the intersection of science and sustainability, meaning we can continue to grow our business without relying only on palm oil or fossil fuel derivatives, while also making our supply chains more resilient from having access to ingredient alternatives," Unilever's Chief Research and Development Officer Richard Slater said Thursday.

 

Write to Michael Susin at michael.susin@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 16, 2022 08:24 ET (12:24 GMT)

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