1990 - 1999: Restructuring and consolidating

The new business focus continues with the number of categories in which Unilever competes cut from over 50 to just 13 by the end of the decade.

Cornetto price list from 1990

This includes the decision to sell or withdraw many brands and concentrate on those with the biggest potential.

Restructuring creates four core business areas: Home Care, Personal Care, Foods and Speciality Chemicals. The new structure is led by a new team, ExCo (the Executive Committee) and includes 12 business groups, each responsible for a mix of geographical and product areas.

Also during this decade Unilever sets up a sustainable agriculture programme in light of growing environmental pressures and consumer concerns about the food chain. Other initiatives to preserve water resource and source fish from sustainable stocks soon follow.



Unilever enters the Czech Republic and Hungary, and establishes UniRus in Russia.


Breyers ice cream is acquired in the US and Organics shampoo is first launched in Thailand. By 1995 Organics is sold in over 40 countries.


The disposal of United Africa Company, Unilever's huge West African trading, brewing and textiles company, is completed.


Unilever publishes its Code of Business Principles.

The unprecedented decision is taken to practically eliminate trans-fats from food production in a rapid response to new research suggesting that their effect on blood cholesterol is at least as adverse as that of saturated fats.


Unilever makes an ambitious commitment to source all fish from sustainable stocks and starts working with the WWF to establish a certification programme for sustainable fisheries known as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Hindustan Lever and Brooke Bond Lipton India merge to create India’s largest private sector company, and the Helene Curtis hair care business in the US is acquired.

The Unilever Nutrition Centre is created.

Annapurna iodised salt is launched in India and starts to make a big impact on redressing iodine deficiency.


Kibon ice cream is acquired in Brazil. Unilever's chemicals businesses including National Starch and Quest International are sold.


Shareholders authorise a special dividend of €7.4 billion and a share consolidation to reduce the number of shares per issue.

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