Unilever food sales drop as coronavirus closes ice cream parlors, other eateries

When will customers return to the ice cream parlor?

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London-based Unilever's foods and refreshment sales dropped 1.7% in the first quarter amid the coronavirus pandemic — and its ice cream sales were hardest hit.

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The reason? Unilever said consumers in its key markets, including Europe, Turkey and Latin America, avoided ice cream parlors and other eateries because of coronavirus.

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ULUNILEVER PLC61.28+3.17+5.46%

Unilever owns popular ice cream brands including Ben & Jerry's, Breyers, Klondike and Magnum.

"As the crisis hits countries around the world, we see upswings in sales of hygiene and in-home food products, combined with some household stocking, and near cessation of out-of-home consumption which is particularly affecting our food service and ice cream business," CEO Alan Jope said.

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Unilever is preparing for "lasting changes in consumer behavior" throughout the globe even as countries move into recovery, Jope said.

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