The move marks a major milestone in the Unilever's continued drive for a more sustainable palm oil industry. The firm contends that by sharing information about suppliers and the mills, the company is making a real step change towards greater transparency in the industry.
A statement on the company’s website reads: “We strongly believe that being open and transparent is key to achieving a fully traceable supply chain – a goal we set ourselves back in 2013 when we first launched our Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing Policy and which we have been pursuing ever since. Not only does it give us better visibility of where our palm oil comes from, it also enables us to more proactively identify issues, and address them quickly and effectively. And, as a result of this data being available we are making it much easier for others to bring demonstrable challenges and insights to our attention. This in turn enables us to investigate and work to remedy the issues alongside suppliers, NGO partners, governments and other stakeholders”
During a panel at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said, “A lot of people think if you outsource your value chain you can outsource your responsibilities. I don’t think so. We need to be at the forefront of change. This is why Unilever is committed to greater transparency and continue to work with our partners to drive positive change in the palm oil industry.”
According to Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer, Unilever has “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.”
Unilever’s extensive mapping exercise entailed more 1,400 mills and more than 300 direct suppliers.