Our history

Our history

Unilever's corporate mission – to add vitality to life – shows how clearly the business understands 21st century-consumers and their lives. But the spirit of this mission forms a thread that runs throughout our history.

History

Known until the early 1990s as Philippine Refining Company (PRC), Unilever Philippines started as an oil milling business which at its peak produced nearly 100,000 tons of coconut oil annually. Today, the company is a leading manufacturer of home and personal care products, foods, and ice cream. Its roster of brands include Axe, Best Foods, Block & White, Breeze, Clear, CloseUp, Cream Silk, Domex, Dove, Eskinol, Master, Pond’s, Knorr, Lady’s Choice, Lipton, Rexona, Selecta, Sunsilk, Surf, Tresemme and Vaseline.

Recognised annually amongst the Top 20 Tax Payers in the country, Unilever Philippines employs over 1,000 people directly, as well as provides jobs for 10,000 indirectly (i.e. distributors and suppliers), as a result of its business presence in the country. Employees and business partners recognise that energy, creativity, the resilience to face changes and make things better are all needed for business and people to grow together.

Unilever is known to be one of the few companies in the industry that has succeeded in keeping majority of its manufacturing base in the Philippines. Its Personal Care unit made news by securing the right to manufacture deodorant mini-sticks for local and export markets. It has succeeded in entering the US market and achieved the milestone on producing its 100 millionth stick in 2004.

The company has been a leader in introducing new technologies into the country since the early days of its existence - margarine production in the 1930s, non-soap detergents, shampoos and toothpaste in the 1960s and 1970s and state of the art sulphonation technology and cogeneration power plant in the 1980s. The nineties has seen the company focusing on several improvements in the Environment front one of which was the introduction of the first 100% biodegradable detergent bar in the Philippines. Unilever works closely with the community and other NGOs to protect and improve the environment.

Unilever Philippines is also a leading company in the area of Human Resources Management and Development. Unilever has for decades also been known in the industry as a sound training ground for young Filipino graduates. Some of its managers have progressed to senior levels in government and public life. Unilever seeks to manage and grow its business sustainably, focusing on three pillars as set out by the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan – Health & Well-Being, Environmental Impact and Enhancing Livelihoods. We will developnew ways of doing business if we are to meet the needs of the billions of people in the developing world who are yet to become consumers and deserve a better quality of life.

1. Help more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being

Reduce Diarrhea and Respiratory Diseases

  • Hand washing – Vaseline Soap

Improve Oral Health

  • Oral Hygiene – Pepsodent Toothpaste

2. Halve the environmental footprint of our products

  • Water: Reduce water use in laundry process via easy rinse  products 

  • Waste: Tackle Sachet and other Residual Waste

3. Source 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably

  • Sustainable Sourcing: Supply of Tuber for Ube Ice Cream Selecta

  • Enhancing Livelihoods: Microentrepreneurs (Neighborhood  Selling Super Stores)

Aside from this, the business will ensure it helps to continue in enhancing the lives of the communities it serves through its other sustainable programs.    

  • Hunger and malnutrition continue to be a national pandemic affecting thousands of school-age Filipino children. Improving Filipino children’s access to better health opportunities is a core objective of our mission as a company in working to create a better future everyday.

  • Environment care is a primary concern in Unilever Philippines. The company is committed to: ensure that our operations do not pollute, encourage our neighbours not to pollute, and encourage wider participation to support our environmental advocacies.

  • Helping improve the lives of marginalized women and Filipino families is also part of our journey towards sustainable growth.

Recognised by various sectors and award-giving bodies, Unilever is proud of its 86 years of heritage in the Philippines and is dedicated to growing its operations in the country in the future.

Timeline

19th century

Although Unilever wasn't formed until 1930, the companies that joined forces to create the business we know today were already well established before the start of the 20th century.

1900s

Unilever's founding companies produced products made of oils and fats, principally soap and margarine. At the beginning of the 20th century their expansion nearly outstrips the supply of raw materials.

1910s

Tough economic conditions and the First World War make trading difficult for everyone, so many businesses form trade associations to protect their shared interests.

1920s

With businesses expanding fast, companies set up negotiations intending to stop others producing the same types of products. But instead they agree to merge - and so Unilever is created. 

1930s

Unilever's first decade is no easy ride: it starts with the Great Depression and ends with the Second World War. But while the business rationalises operations, it also continues to diversify.

1940s

Unilever's operations around the world begin to fragment, but the business continues to expand further into the foods market and increase investment in research and development.

1950s

Business booms as new technology and the European Economic Community lead to rising standards of living in the West, while new markets open up in emerging economies around the globe.

1960s

As the world economy expands, so does Unilever and it sets about developing new products, entering new markets and running a highly ambitious acquisition programme.

1970s

Hard economic conditions and high inflation make the '70s a tough time for everyone, but things are particularly difficult in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector as the big retailers start to flex their muscles.

1980s

Unilever is now one of the world's biggest companies, but takes the decision to focus its portfolio, and rationalise its businesses to focus on core products and brands.

1990s

The business expands into Central and Eastern Europe and further sharpens its focus on fewer product categories, leading to the sale or withdrawal of two-thirds of its brands.

The 21st century

The decade starts with the launch of Path to Growth, a five-year strategic plan, and in 2004 further sharpens its focus on the needs of 21st century consumers with its Vitality mission.