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Unilever beats fourth quarter sales estimates

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LONDON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Unilever Plc posted stronger-than-expected quarterly sales growth on Thursday, helped by rising prices for detergents, soaps and packaged foods.

The London-based firm said it expects cost inflation to continue in 2023, forecasting net material inflation in the first half of around €1.5 billion.

The packaged goods industry has hiked prices sharply over the past year to deal with rising costs of everything from cocoa and sunflower oil to wheat. The industry was already battling the high supply chain and raw materials spending of the COVID era when Russia invaded Ukraine, driving up the prices of energy and many other commodities.

“Over the first half, underlying price growth will remain elevated and volume growth will be negative,” Unilever said in a statement. “Volume will improve as price growth subsides, but it’s too early to tell whether volume will turn positive in the second half.”

Underlying sales increased 9.2% in the fourth quarter, beating the company’s analyst estimates of an 8.2% increase.

(Reporting by Richa Naidu; Editing by Matt Scuffham)