The company is already present in skin, hair and oral care in the cosmetics and personal care arena, but also wants to expand its presence in the food care category, where it is currently active in savoury products, as well as further expanding in the household care category.
It now wants to increase its existing third party distribution network in the country to support the ramped up production from the new manufacturing facility, and the company is already said to be already planning the opening of a second facility.
Significant investment in new production facility
Unilever claims it made a significant financial investment to build the new facility in Yangon, and says it is expected to swing into production with a team of 150 employees at the end of June.
The company says that it is also committed to helping to rebuild the Myanmar economy and infrastructure by implementing its Sustainable Living Plan, which is being drawn up in conjunction with government and key stakeholders.
“For us, sustainability is integral to how we do business, to not only offer Myanmar consumers world-class products but to also play an important role in driving sustainable living as part of our long-term commitment towards Myanmar’s development,” said Bauke Rouwers, Chairman & CEO, Unilever Thailand & Indochina.
Global companies embrace new liberal era
Thanks to its British colonial connections, Unilever’s history in Myanmar goes back more than 80 years, but it pulled out of the market in support of a worldwide economic boycott of the country against the country’s military dictatorship, which came to power in 1962.
Unilever re-entered the market in 2010, following a number of reforms by the government, which have shifted the emphasis towards a liberal democracy, in turn helping to lift many of the old economic barriers, particularly those initiated by Western Europe.
Although the country currently has the lowest GDP in Asia, and also one of the lowest in the world, many global corporate business are trying to establish themselves back in the market in an effort to tap into projected future growth potential.
Many other major global consumer goods are also making a push on Myanmar for these very reason, and Coca-Cola recently made a re-entry into the market for the first time in 60 years, following the opening of a new bottling facility there.