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Unilever Sources Over 33% of Agricultural Raw Materials Sustainably

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Unilever Sources Over 33% of Agricultural Raw Materials Sustainably

Unilever Sources Over 33% of Agricultural Raw Materials Sustainably
April 05
13:42 2013

Unilever has announced that 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.

Marc Engel, Chief Procurement Officer says: “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, 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,” Marc Engel adds.


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