Amid the increasing demand for hygiene products because of the coronavirus outbreak, Hindustan Unilever has decided to increase soap prices between 5% and 6% across the brands.
As soon as the price hike announcement was flashed on TV news channels, social media users started criticising the move and #BoycottHUL started trending on Twitter.
The users called out the company for being opportunistic and said it was indulging in profiteering at a time when the demand for its products was at an all-time high.Â
This is inhuman and against humanity. Hindustan Uniliver increases prices of their key products at the time of epidemic. Shame on you uniliver #BoycottHUL @sudhirchaudhary @sardanarohit @AnilSinghvi_ @KapilMishra_IND @BJP4India @PypAyurved @myogiadityanath @consumerforum_ pic.twitter.com/LjXBqhmqHfâ KUSHAGRA MISHRA (@Blackwolf_0003) March 18, 2020
At this time, when sanitation items needs to be more affordable to reach everywhere, HUL is seeing the situation as an opportunity to raise their profit by increasing the prices of soaps. What a pathetic business move to earn money #BoycottHUL pic.twitter.com/CPbPKoX7Bhâ Bharat (@Bharat_1008_) March 18, 2020
The companyâs spokesperson, however, claimed that the company isnât trying to make more profits in the time of crisis and the decision to increase the prices of soaps was taken well in advance.
âThe prices of palm oil, a key ingredient for soaps, have been increasing for many months, and at the end of 2019, the inflation was over 25%. In light of this, we increased prices in our skin cleansing portfolio by 5% to 6% across our brands: Lux, Lifebuoy, Dove, Hamam, Liril and Pears. This was well before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in India. The production of new stock started in January and we had shared an update with the market on January 31, 2020 during our December quarter earning calls. We had also clarified that the price increase was much lower than inflation,â the spokesperson added.
The demand for hand sanitisers and soaps is surging around the globe due to the outbreak of coronavirus. There have been reports from across the country about the unavailability of hygiene products. The government has already put masks and sanitisers under the essential commodities act.
However, the spokesperson said the company is doing everything to make its Lifebuoy range available despite the supply chain disruption.
âWe are ramping up the distribution and production of our hygiene brands while working with the government to increase awareness of handwashing and sanitisers. We are fully committed to supporting the government and various authorities in our collective effort of stopping the spread of Covid-19,â the spokesperson said.
It wasnât the first time HUL received this sort of a backslash. Last year, the company had posted a controversial ad for its Red Label brand during Kumbh Mela, which was criticised on social media.