UK – Consumer goods manufacturer, Unilever has announced that it will contribute a total of €600 million (US$649m) through cash flow relief as well as donations to help in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

The package includes a €100 million (US$108m) contribution through  donations of soap, sanitiser, bleach and food  to the company’s multiple stakeholders including consumers, communities, customers, suppliers and its workforce.

Unilever disclosed that it is making a product donation of soaps and sanitiser of at least €50 million (US$54m)  to the COVID Action Platform of the World Economic Forum, which is supporting global health organisations and agencies with their response to the emergency.

In addition to the supply of soap, Unilever said that it will adapt its current manufacturing lines to produce sanitiser for use in hospitals, schools and other institutional settings.

The company is also making product donations, forming partnerships and rolling out handwashing education programmes, delivered through national health authorities and NGOs, to support local communities most at need.

“We hope that our donation of €100m of soap, sanitiser, bleach and food will make a significant contribution towards protecting people’s lives, and that by helping to safeguard our workers’ incomes and jobs, we are giving some peace of mind during these uncertain times,” said Alan Jope, CEO Unilever.

Unilever has also pledged to offer €500 million (US$541m) of cash flow relief to support livelihoods across its extended value chain.

The €500 million package will include early payment for the company’s most vulnerable small and medium sized suppliers, to help them with financial liquidity.

The financial support will also see the company extend credit to selected small-scale retail customers whose business relies on Uniliver. The company said that this will help the SME’s to manage and protect jobs.

Unilever has also committed to protect its workforce from sudden drops in pay as a result of market disruption or being unable to perform their role, for up to three months.

Unilever joins other multinational companies who have pledged to support COVID-19 impacted communities. Kraft Heinz has pledged to mobilize US$12 million, PepsiCo has committed US$11m while Carlsberg is donating US$13.8 million.

“We are deeply saddened by the terrible impact that coronavirus is wreaking on lives and livelihoods everywhere. The world is facing its greatest trial in decades.

“We have seen the most incredible response from the Unilever team so far, especially those on the front line of our operations in factories, distribution centres and stores.

“Our strong cash flow and balance sheet mean that we can, and should, give this additional support,” Alan said.