We undertook an in-depth review of our sustainable sourcing strategy over 2016–2017 to ensure we continued to evolve our approach and maximise our impact. The review highlighted the need for us to further strengthen our overall sustainable sourcing programme, and in particular to update our Sustainable Agriculture Code (SAC). The updated Code includes a stronger emphasis on social issues across five key areas (no deforestation; human rights, including Free, Prior and Informed Consent; legal compliance; migrant labour; and grievance processes for workers).
Our review also confirmed that while our strategic direction is the right one for our business, society and the environment, we’re unable to reach our target by 2020 despite the considerable advances we’ve made. This is partly because of our lack of scale to achieve sufficient change across all crops. And partly because the length and complexity of some supply chains make it very difficult to develop a line of sight on the farmers at the very beginning of that supply chain, and thus to reassure ourselves that their practices are sustainable.
We are concentrating our efforts where we can drive the greatest impact. We’ve pinpointed a set of 12 priority crops and commodities which are not only crucial to our brands, but also where we can have most impact within their agricultural sectors. These include palm oil, paper and board, soy, sugar, tea, dairy, rapeseed, cereals, vegetables, cocoa, herbal infusions and vanilla. By 2020, we expect to reach around 95% sustainably sourced for these key crops, and around 67% sustainable sourcing overall.
Alongside our focus on key crops, we’re developing and deploying technologies that have the potential to disrupt and transform supply chain transparency. We are investing in satellite data, geolocation, blockchain and AI, working with major tech firms and innovative start-ups to build new approaches to monitoring and traceability. In 2018, we deepened our commitment to transparency with the publication of our palm oil mill list, and in January 2019 we became the first fast-moving consumer goods company to publish our palm oil grievances using the Unilever palm oil grievance tracker (PDF | 707KB). We increased the visibility of our supply chain within our tea business in 2019 and have also published details of our paper and board, soy and cocoa suppliers.
Our ambition to source sustainably and responsibly extends to all procured materials, not just those that are renewable. So by 2020, all the materials we purchase – including plastics and mined minerals – will be sourced responsibly in line with our Responsible Sourcing Policy. Extending our scope in this way enables us to drive maximum impact via our sourcing commitments.
See Our strategy above for further detail.