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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Customer Relations Officer

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Jemma Gent: Project Coordinator

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Jemma Gent: In this role you will report to the Head of...

Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable