Unilever discloses entire palm oil supply chain; explains decision as vital in addressing deforestation and human rights abuses
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Author: Thomson Reuters Foundation
Consumer goods giant Unilever said...it had laid bare its entire palm oil supply chain, including all the suppliers and mills it sources from, to boost transparency in a rare industry move.
Unilever said it was the first consumers goods company to publish such details, having disclosed the location of more than 1,400 mills and over 300 direct suppliers of the oil used in products from snacks and soaps to cosmetics and biofuels. The $62 billion palm oil industry has been plagued by concerns about deforestation and human rights abuses in countries such as Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer.
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 said transparency and the ability to trace palm oil are vital in addressing deforestation and human rights abuses.
"We take a radical step on palm oil supply chain transparency," 16 February 2018
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... Transparency and traceability are important as we can only effectively address the systemic issues associated with how palm oil is cultivated and produced – such as deforestation and human rights abuses – if we know exactly where the problems are. Having greater visibility across the entire supply chain will help accelerate transformation of the industry.
As Unilever’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, Marc Engel, explains: “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.”