More than a year after Russia invaded Ukraine, the company that makes Dove soap and Cornetto ice cream has defended its decision to continue doing business there.
Unilever stated that exiting was “not straightforward” because the Russian government would take over its operations.
It comes after a campaign group estimated that the company gives £579 million annually to the Russian economy.
The company was accused of facilitating Russia’s invasion by the Moral Rating Agency.
Mark Dixon, the company’s founder, stated, “Unilever must stop hiding behind its balance sheet and excuses to face the reality that selling an ice cream can allow Putin to pay for a bullet.”
In the wake of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine last year, a number of Western companies, including Apple and Levi’s, left the country for ethical and operational reasons.
However, some businesses are still operating there, including the consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble of the United States, which has stated that it has limited its activities there.
Unilever, which sells Marmite and PG Tips in the UK, announced that it had stopped advertising in Russia and had stopped shipping goods to and from Russia.
It also says that it only sells “essential” products in the country, like food for everyday use and products for personal hygiene.
However, the Moral Rating Agency (MRA) stated that the majority of Unilever’s original products were still manufactured and sold in Russia at the company’s production facilities.
It claimed that its calculations included the total amount that Unilever contributed annually to the Russian treasury, as well as money spent on local employees, suppliers, and other expenses like rent and technology.
“Unilever’s admission in its 2022 Annual Report that its Russian business represents 1.4% of turnover starts the MRA calculation,” the group added.
Unilever said, referring the BBC to its most recent statement from February: We comprehend why Unilever is being urged to leave Russia.
“We also want to make it abundantly clear that we are not attempting to safeguard or manage our Russian business.” However, exiting is difficult for companies like Unilever, which have a significant physical presence in the country.
“They would be appropriated – and then operated – by the Russian state” was the statement made by the company, which has approximately 3,000 employees in Russia.
The market leader in consumer goods claimed that it was unable to sell the company in a way that “avoids the Russian state potentially gaining further benefit, and which safeguards our people.”
It stated that continuing to run the business under “strict constraints” was the best course of action given the circumstances, but that there were no “desirable” alternatives.
This week, Shell was criticized for trading in Russian gas after promising to leave the Russian energy market for more than a year.
The oil major claimed that the transactions do not violate any regulations or laws because they are the result of “long-term contractual commitments.”
The Cornetto company in russia
The Cornetto company in Russia is owned by Unilever, a British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company. Unilever acquired the Cornetto brand in 1976, and it has been one of the most popular ice cream brands in Russia ever since.
In 2022, Unilever faced criticism for its decision to continue operating in Russia after the country invaded Ukraine. The company defended its decision, saying that it was not a “straightforward option” to exit Russia as it would have led to the loss of jobs and the takeover of its operations by the Russian state.
Unilever has said that it is only selling “essential” products in Russia, including ice cream, but the Moral Rating Agency (MRA) has accused the company of continuing to sell most of its original goods in the country.
The MRA has also said that Unilever’s production facilities in Russia are still operating, and that the company is continuing to pay taxes to the Russian government.
Unilever’s decision to stay in Russia has been met with mixed reactions. Some people have criticized the company for doing business with a country that is engaged in war, while others have said that Unilever is simply trying to protect its employees and its business interests.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to buy Cornetto ice cream in Russia is a personal one. Some people may feel that it is wrong to support a company that is doing business in Russia, while others may not be concerned about the company’s ties to the country.