New target for traceable palm oil

Unilever is to buy all its palm oil from traceable to known sources by 2014 – a further step in our commitment to purchase all our palm oil sustainably from certified, traceable sources by 2020.

Market transformation

The announcement was made following the November 2013 meeting held in Indonesia by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). It follows another announcement in 2012 that Unilever had reached its target to buy all its palm oil sustainably three years earlier than its original 2015 target, most of it backed by GreenPalm certificates.

Marc Engel, Unilever’s Chief Procurement Officer, says: "Market transformation can only happen if everyone involved takes responsibility and is held accountable for driving a sustainability agenda.

“Our progress has been made possible by the commitment and efforts of a number of our strategic suppliers.

“We will continue to engage with our suppliers, NGOs, governments, RSPO , end users and other industry stakeholders to develop collaborative solutions to halt deforestation, protect peat lands, and to drive positive economic and social impact for people and local communities.”

Sustainable palm oil

Richard Holland, Director of WWF’s Market Transformation Initiative, says: "Unilever’s 2014 commitment marks a very promising step on the continuing journey towards real market transformation to sustainable palm oil.

“Unilever’s role and actions have been instrumental on this journey so far. They helped us establish the RSPO in 2004 and have been closely involved in its development into a credible institution and standard.

“But, as importantly, Unilever has also matched its commitment with action on buying RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.

“The WWF Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard 2013 ranks user companies – retailers, food service, manufacturers and processors/traders - on their commitments to use sustainable palm oil.

“But the journey is not over. We will continue to work with Unilever and others through the RSPO to encourage further certification by growers and buying of certified palm oil by manufacturers and retailers.

“WWF also encourages leading companies in the sector to set the industry benchmarks on important issues like traceability, protection of peat lands, significant GHG reductions and no deforestation. We urge other companies along the palm oil value chain to follow the lead shown by Unilever.”

Leading broader action

Unilever is one of the world’s major buyers of palm oil for use in products such as margarine, ice cream, soap and shampoo. We purchase around 1.5 million tonnes of palm oil and its derivatives annually, which represents about 3% of the world’s total production.

We are committed to driving market transformation towards a more sustainable palm oil sector and was a founder member of the RSPO. Unilever co-chairs the Consumer Goods Forum Steering Group on Sustainability and led the process which resulted in the creation of the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, a multi-stakeholder collaboration involving governments with the goal of eliminating deforestation.

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