FMCG major Hindustan Unilever has hiked prices of products in the laundry and skin cleansing categories again, as input costs continue to remain a cause of concern for the fast-moving consumer goods sector. HUL, on its part, has hiked prices of detergents and soap bars by anywhere between 3.5 to 14 percent in the past month, according to distributor sources. Meanwhile, for smaller packs, the company is said to have reduced grammage, while keeping the MRP intact. The price hikes come at a time when FMCG companies have been facing high inflationary pressures with rising palm oil and its byproducts.
In the laundry or detergent segment, HUL has hiked the price of Wheel detergent powder by 3.5 percent, representing a hike of about 1-2 rupees for both the one kg and 500-gram packs. The 1kg Wheel powder now costs around Rs 58, up from Rs 56 earlier, while it is Rs 57 in some markets. The 500gm pack now costs Rs 29, up from Rs 28 earlier. The price of Rin detergent powder too has seen about 6-8 percent hike. Sources say that the small Rs 10-MRP Wheel pack has seen some reduction in grammage from 150gm earlier to about 130gm now. While one-kilo pack of the Rin detergent earlier cost around Rs 77, it has now been hiked to Rs 82, while the half kilo pack has been hiked by about three rupees from Rs 37 to Rs 40. Among laundry soap bars like Rin too have seen a price hike of about 6.25 percent.
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HUL’s high-end products like Surf Excel have seen the steepest hikes. The Surf Excel easy wash variant is costlier by almost 14 rupees for the 1 kg variant at Rs 114. Other variants have also seen some price hikes, however, the quantum wasn’t confirmed by distributors that CNBC-TV18 spoke to.
In the skin cleansing category too, sources say HUL has hiked prices of soap bars like Lux and Lifebuoy. Lux is now costlier by anywhere between 8-12 percent across variants and this is mainly in the combo packs. So the 5 in one 100gm pack of Lux, which earlier cost Rs 120, has been hiked to around Rs 128-130. The price of Lifebuoy also has been hiked by around eight percent, while the grammage has been reduced for small packs.
These hikes come at a time when we have been seeing unprecedented inflation in crude and palm oil prices, something HUL and the industry has been alluding to. In fact, HUL hiked soap prices of its skin cleansing products by 5-7 percent in the second half of FY21 and most recently, it said during the Q1 results that it has taken price increases in tea, skin cleansing and laundry products.
CNBC-TV18 has reached out to HUL but is yet to hear from the company.
The latest price hikes add to the increases that the company has been taking in the past few quarters, especially in its tea, skin cleansing and laundry products. In the April-June (Q1) quarter, HUL said that it continued to see unprecedented inflation in key input materials with some commodity prices being at 20-year highs. Ritesh Tiwari, the chief financial officer of HUL said at the time that this led to the company taking price increases in the tea, skin cleansing and laundry products during the quarter. Prior to that, HUL also hiked prices of its skin cleansing products by 5-7 percent in the last two quarters of FY21.
Through its interactions with the media, HUL has maintained that the company’s focus remains on delivering volume-led competitive growth and margins in a healthy range.