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Unilever Sources Over 1/3 of Agricultural Raw Materials Sustainably While Growing Business

With 36% now sourced sustainably, it has exceeded the interim milestone of 30% it set itself in 2010 when launching the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan

Published 04-02-13

Submitted by Unilever

Unilever (NYSE: UL) today announced it is sourcing more than a third of its agricultural raw materials sustainably, having made significant progress towards its target of 100% by 2020. With 36% now sourced sustainably, it has exceeded the interim milestone of 30% it set itself in 2010 when launching the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

The improvement was made against a backdrop of the company reporting annual sales of €51 billion in 2012. Taken together, they represent significant milestones on the way to realising Unilever’s vision of doubling the size of its business whilst reducing its environmental footprint and improving its positive social impact. This announcement comes ahead of the upcoming Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Progress Report which will be released on April 22, 2013.

Marc Engel, Chief Procurement Officer said: “Climate change, water scarcity, unsustainable farming practices, and rising populations all threaten agricultural supplies and food security.
Half of the raw materials Unilever buys are from the farming and forestry industries, so ensuring a secure supply of these materials is a major business issue. However, sustainable sourcing is not only about managing business risks, it also presents an opportunity for growth, allowing brands to stand out in the marketplace.”

One example is how Knorr has supported sustainable growth for the Foods category. In September 2012 a new soup launched in France became the first Unilever product to promote an ingredient (tomatoes) as sustainably grown in accordance with the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code. This was made possible through the Knorr Sustainability Partnership Fund, which uses €1 million a year to support vegetable suppliers on complex sustainable agriculture projects. This development has boosted shelf standout and competitive differentiation and now Knorr plans to continue to label other products.

For cocoa, 43% was sourced sustainably by the end of 2012. And 64% of cocoa for Magnum was sustainably sourced through Rainforest Alliance certification. To achieve certification, Unilever has been working with supplier Barry Callebaut to run farmer field schools with 20,000 small farmers across West Africa. The schools work with local farmers to build skills and knowledge around sustainable cultivation practices. Then the farmers spread the knowledge through the community. Magnum also shares with its consumers why it works with Rainforest Alliance to source cocoa sustainably: to source high-quality cocoa beans,Cocoa_Unilever to increase the income of farmers and deliver social benefits such as improved health and safety practices.

“Investing in smallholder farmers is critical: so far 450,000 have been trained. If smallholders have access to training, better quality seeds and fertiliser they can significantly increase their yields. We know we cannot do this alone which is why we are forming strategic partnerships with suppliers through our Partner to Win programme, NGOs and other stakeholders,” Engel adds.

Other examples of progress in sustainable sourcing include:

  • Palm oil: All palm oil is now covered by GreenPalm certificates. Unilever is working towards the new commitment to 100% certified sustainable palm oil which is traceable back to the plantations on which it is grown. In 2012 Unilever joined key players in industry and government for the China Sustainable Palm Oil Supply Chain Forum, for talks on promoting faster uptake in China, the world’s second-largest consumer of palm oil.
  • Sugar: Unilever has purchased its first ever Bonsucro sustainable sugar credits in Brazil, and has become the first ever Bonsucro member to obtain these worldwide. Working with Usina Sao Joao, Unilever purchased the first 3262 tonnes of Bonsucro sustainable sugar credits in Brazil when the credit platform opened for business in December 2012. While Unilever is not a major player in the global sugar cane stakes, accounting for just 0.26% of the market, the credit purchase highlighted Unilever’s commitment to reducing the environmental and social impacts of sugar cane production.
  • Vanilla: A collaboration with Symrise, one of the world’s largest vanilla suppliers, has led to Unilever’s first Rainforest Alliance (RA) certified vanilla beans. Together through the partnership, Symrise has, trained more than 1,100 farmers – with almost 5,000 more set to benefit from the programme. Symrise is working directly with farmers to improve the quality of vanilla production through farmer training. They are building traceability in the vanilla supply chain to enable Unilever to trace the vanilla from the field to the consumer.
  • Sunflower oil: In South Africa, Unilever has been working with supplier Ceoco to improve traceability in the supply chain. A farming community was identified in Limpopo with good practices that could initially pilot the project. Unilever and Ceoco have since worked with the farmers by providing financial incentives to develop hybrid seeds with higher yields. The oils can then be traced right back to the individual farms where the seeds were grown. The next step will be to scale-up the project and roll it out to different provinces and more farmers.

About Unilever

Unilever (NYSE: UL) is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries. Our products are present in 7 out of 10 homes globally and are used by over 2 billion people on a daily basis. We work with 173,000 colleagues around the world, and generated annual sales of €51.3 billion in 2012. Over half of our company’s footprint is in the faster growing developing and emerging markets (55% in 2012). Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known brands such as Knorr, Persil / Omo, Dove, Sunsilk, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Rexona / Sure, Wall’s, Lux, Rama, Ponds and Axe.

Our vision is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our environmental footprint (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal) and increasing our positive social impact. We are committed to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, sourcing all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020, and decoupling our growth from our environmental impact. Supporting these goals are seven commitments underpinned by targets spanning our social, environmental and economic performance across the value chain. See more on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/.

Unilever has been recognised in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes for 14 consecutive years. We are included in the FTSE4Good Index Series and attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. In 2012, for the second year in a row, Unilever led the Climate Counts Company Scorecard and topped the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the GlobeScan / SustainAbility latest annual survey.  The company is an employer of choice in many of the countries in which it operates and is seen as a symbol for innovation and leadership development.

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com.

Unilever logo

Unilever

Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods with operations in over 100 countries and sales in 190. Consumers buy 170 billion Unilever packs around the world every year, and our products are used over two billion times a day. We have more than 171,000 employees, and generated annual sales of €46.5 billion in 2011. More than half our sales are generated in emerging markets (56% in 2011). Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and good for others. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known brands including Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Dove, Vaseline, Persil, Cif, Radox, Sure and Lifebuoy.

Our ambition is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our overall environmental impact (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal). We are also committed to doing what we can to improve health, nutrition and hygiene, with a target to help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, as well as sourcing all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020. All of these goals are itemised in around 50 time-based commitments in our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Unilever has led the Food Producers sector in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes for 14 consecutive years and has regained the leadership of the Food and Beverage supersector. We are included in the FTSE4Good Index Series and attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. In 2011 Unilever led the Climate Counts Company Scorecard and were named #1 in the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in GlobeScan Inc. and SustainAbility Ltd’s latest annual survey (2012).

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com

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