Dutch blow to Unilever soap powder: Consumer group challenged over its findings on 'wear and tear'

UNILEVER, the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, suffered a setback yesterday in its European battle with rival Procter and Gamble when a Dutch consumers' organisation delivered an unexpectedly harsh verdict on the company's new soap powder.

The consumer body's credibility was quickly challenged, however, when Albert Heijn, one of the Netherlands' largest retail chains, advised its outlets to disregard its conclusions.

Procter and Gamble has been attacking the Unilever product - known as Omo Power in the Netherlands and Persil Power in the UK - since its launch earlier this year, claiming it causes undue damage to clothes. It has targeted European consumer groups in an attempt to discredit the product.

The Dutch association, Consumentenbond, giving its verdict after tests on the powder, said it 'washes just as clean as another good bleach-containing detergent at 40 and 60 degrees centigrade. However, we feel that the wear-and-tear of the washing is too high, especially for coloured cotton'.

Unilever, whose senior executives suspect a Procter and Gamble-inspired 'dirty tricks' campaign, immediately challenged the Dutch group's findings. 'The conclusions fly in the face of the actual test results,' a source said.

Procter and Gamble tried unsuccessfully to prevent the launch of Unilever's product last March, claiming it had evidence that it damaged clothes. Procter has since campaigned to try to have the powder removed from supermarket shelves.

Unilever feels that consumer associations are apt to come out with stronger conclusions than their tests merit, because of the publicity value of such action. Privately, it had expected the Dutch group to be more favourable than the UK Consumers Association, which it already considers will support Procter and Gamble's stance.

Unilever said yesterday that the test results in the Netherlands were not unfavourable, even though the overall conclusions of Consumentenbond were. It said that 'although the publication mentions good to very good evaluations for several test aspects, it seems that the Consumentenbond only partly recognises the specific properties of Omo Power in the areas of stain removal and environmental benefits'.

In a falling UK market, shares in Unilever fell 25p to 1,117p. The shares lost 3.30 guilders to close at 196.50 in Amsterdam.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific