Unilever Goes Transparent about Palm Oil Supply Chain

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Consumer goods company Unilever says it has gone transparent about its palm oil supply chain, publishing details about all the suppliers and mills it sources from. It represents an extremely rare move in the industry.

In total, Unilever disclosed the location of more than 1,400 mills and over 300 direct suppliers involved in sourcing palm oil, an ingredient used in soaps, cosmetics, and snacks. The US$62 billion palm oil industry has come under increasing pressure to address environmental and labor rights concerns in recent years, especially in Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of palm oil.

The Straits Times reports:

Marc Engel, Unilever’s chief supply chain officer, said the company hoped sharing the information would be the start of a new industry-wide movement towards supply chain transparency.

“Unilever believes that complete transparency is needed for radical transformation,” Engel said in a statement posted on Unilever’s website.

“This is a big step towards greater transparency, but we know there is more work to be done to achieve a truly sustainable palm oil industry and we will continue our efforts to make this a reality.” Unilever said transparency and the ability to trace palm oil are vital in addressing deforestation and human rights abuses.

The reason why palm oil supply chains are so complex is because the fruit goes from plantations to mills to traders and refineries, passing through many workers’ hands and many countries on the way to its final destination.

Campaigners and consumers have pressed companies like PepsiCo, Unilever, and Nestle to clean up their supply chains due to the sourcing of palm oil produced through deforestation and severe labor exploitation.

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.

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