Unilever’s sustainable living plan, launched in 2010, consisted of plans for improving health and well-being,
reducing environmental impact, and enhancing livelihoods. The plan is to achieve all three components with
seven commitments underpinned by targets spanning from social, environmental, and economic performance across the value chain – sourcing of raw materials all the way through to the use of Unilever products by 2020. As of last month, Unilever announced it had achieved over 30 percent sustainable sourcing in its supply chain, exceeding its interim milestone of 30 percent by six percent, totaling 36% sustainable sourcing in its supply chain to date.
Unilever’s Chief Procurement officer, Marc Engel, stated, “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”.
It is in the interest of Unilever to invest in sustainable farming and continue its success in sourcing cocoa,
sugar, vanilla, and sunflower oil in an ethical and green way. The company has partnerships with suppliers who ensure their products are from a sustainable source and has been working with Barry Callebaut USA, LLC to run farmer field schools. The schools consist of 20,000 farmers across West Africa who are taught skills and knowledge on sustainable practices. The goal is for the farmers to practice the sustainable cultivation practices and spread the knowledge.
“Investing in smallholder farmers is critical: so far 450,000 have been trained. If smallholders have access to
training, better quality seeds and fertilizer 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” said Engel.
Unilever has only seven more years to achieve its Sustainable Living Plan; however, at this rate the future is very promising and green.