Unilever announces palm oil supply chain transparency

In a move to tackle a thorny consumer issue, Unilever has announced it is to reveal the suppliers and mills from which it sources palm oil from as part of a move towards a more sustainable supply chain.

In a statement, the company said: “By sharing information about our suppliers and the mills that process the products we buy, we are making a real step change towards greater transparency in the industry. We strongly believe that being open and transparent is key to achieving a fully traceable supply chain – a goal we set ourselves back in 2013 when we first launched our Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing Policy and which we have been pursuing ever since.”

Chief executive Paul Polman, speaking at a panel at this year’s World Economic Forum, said: “A lot of people think if you outsource your value chain you can outsource your responsibilities. I don’t think so.

“We need to be at the forefront of change. This is why Unilever is committed to greater transparency and continue to work with our partners to drive positive change in the palm oil industry.”

The palm oil supply chain is a complex and long one, with it moving between different organisations before it reaches the food products factories of Unilever.

Unilever’s chief supply chain officer, Marc Engel, said: “We have been long committed to lead the drive towards transparency and the best way to demonstrate this is by opening up our own supply chain. Due to traditional commercial sensitivities and the complexity of the palm oil supply chain, it has required perseverance to get to where we are now.

“We are very proud to be the first consumer goods company to take this step. Unilever believes that complete transparency is needed for radical transformation. We want this step to be the start of a new industry-wide movement.”