Unilever has publicly disclosed the suppliers of its palm oil to increase transparency in its supply chain.
The production of palm oil is often criticised due to it significantly contributing to deforestation. Unilever estimates that it impacts 5m tonnes or 8% of global palm oil production which it uses in products such as processed foods, detergents and cosmetics.
The supply chain of palm oil is complex, having to go through various different process to reach the direct supply chains of companies who use it in their products. There have been reports of labour abuse within palm oil production and by becoming more transparent it will potentially make it easier for Unilever to act upon any human rights abuses or issues of sustainability.
Unilever has also said that it will make it easier to be alerted to any possible issues from outside of the company.
Unilever said it has been working on sourcing its palm oil from sustainable sources and intends to have 100% of its palm oil to be sustainably sourced by 2019. It predicts that 80% of its palm oil comes from sustainable sources in 2018. In 2015 only 19% was sustainably sourced.
Commenting on this transparency move, Unilever 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. Unilever believes that complete transparency is needed for radical transformation. We want this step to be the start of a new industry-wide movement.”
By Joe Pickard