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Unilever accused of 'exploiting customers' amid Tesco price row

Unilever is said to be demanding a 10% price rise due to the falling pound. Credit: RTV

Unilever, one of the world's largest consumer goods manufacturers, has been accused of "exploiting consumers" after a pricing row with Tesco.

The company is believed to have demanded a 10% price rise due to the falling pound, stopping deliveries to Tesco when it refused and leaving the retailer low on household items such as Marmite, Flora and Persil.

It is thought a number of other leading supermarkets are embroiled in the row with Unilever, which earlier this year posted profits of around £2 billion for the first half of 2016.

Unilever refused to comment on the dispute, but chief executive Paul Polman warned in June that a vote to leave the EU's single market would increase prices for consumers.

But MPs have condemned the company and accused it of using the UK's imminent exit from the European Union as an excuse to exploit consumers.

Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth told the Daily Telegraph the row will "damage" Unilever's reputation.

I think it will be very damaging to the reputation of Unilever if they seek to use the fall in the pound to exploit the consumer.

Clearly products which are not dependent upon imports into the United Kingdom will not be affected by the fall in the value of the pound.

Consumers will switch to other products where companies aren't seeking to fleece the consumer.

– Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron blamed the government, saying: "The chaos around Brexit is now hitting our supermarket shelves. This shows the government don't have a plan or even a clue."

Tesco is running low on Unilever items such as Marmite, Flora and Persil. Credit: RTV

Some consumers on Twitter said they were planning to boycott Unilever products because of the row and praised Tesco for refusing to introduce the price hike.

The dispute came on a tumultuous day for the pound on the foreign exchanges, which at one point saw sterling lose almost 1% of it value against the dollar during the course of exchanges in the House of Commons, before slightly recovering.

The Tesco stand-off with Unilever came hours after former Sainsbury's boss Justin King said shoppers should expect price rises after the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote.

Mr King warned supermarkets would struggle to absorb the rise in the cost of importing goods because of the devalued pound.

Speaking at a conference Mr King said: "Retailers' margins are already squeezed. So there is no room to absorb input price pressures and costs will need to be passed on."

He added: "No business wants to be the first to blame Brexit for a rise in prices. But once someone does, there will be a flood of companies because they will all be suffering."

Below are some of the major brands made by Unilever:

Food

  • Bertolli
  • Flora
  • Hellmann's
  • Knorr
  • Magnum
  • Ben & Jerry's
  • Carte D'Or
  • Cornetto
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
  • Maille
  • Marmite
  • Solero
  • Stork
  • Vienetta
  • Wall's
  • Bovril
  • Colman's
  • Elmlea
  • Pot Noodle
  • DRINK
  • Lipton
  • Lyons
  • PG Tips

Cosmetics

  • Dove
  • Lynx
  • Sure
  • Brut
  • Tresemme
  • Timotei
  • VO5
  • Vaseline
  • Pond's
  • Impulse
  • Radox
  • Simple
  • St Ives

Household

  • Comfort
  • Domestos
  • Persil
  • Surf
  • Cif

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