Belgian supermarket takes Unilever products off the shelf

12th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Delhaize and Unilever in dispute over prices and product packages.

The Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize will no longer stock many products manufactured by the multinational Unilever. The two companies recently failed to reach a price deal.

Many of the products are household brands including Lipton (tea), Zwam (sausages), Effi (jam), Knorr (soup) and Sun (washing up tablets).

Liesbeth Rogiers of Delhaize told the VRT that the annual talks between Delhaize and Unilever broke down without any agreement. The dispute centres on the assortment Unilever is trying to push and price issues.

The Delhaize spokeswoman says that the prices charged by Unilever would lead to 30% price increases for customers.

Unilever acknowledges that it wants to raise a number of prices, but disputes Delhaize's figures.

Aurélie Gerth of Unilever says that prices have risen by up to 3% and this is less than inflation and a good thing for our customers.

Ms Gerth also underlines that Unilever was trying to reach a framework accord on prices valid for a year.
Will customers walk?

Delhaize's rivals are keenly watching developments.

Gino Van Ossel of the Vlerick Management School says that both parties are unwilling to give in, but are taking risks at the same time: "Delhaize is offering its customers an alternative brand, but nobody knows whether customers will change supermarket as a result.

"Experience also shows that both players will lose out on turnover. Somebody will have to give in sooner or later. It remains to be seen who this will be."


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