Working across the palm oil supply chain

Effective engagement with suppliers is crucial in helping us meet our sustainable palm oil commitments.

Our palm oil suppliers are essential partners

Effective engagement with suppliers is crucial in transforming the palm oil industry to eliminate deforestation and help us meet our sustainable palm oil commitments. Without support from our suppliers, we would be unable to identify or engage with the mills within our supply chain. Taking the next steps towards achieving full sustainability and compliance with our sourcing policies would be even more challenging.

Strengthening our approach

As part of our approach, we are significantly reducing the complexity of our supply base. We are focusing on securing the majority of the palm oil volumes we source from a few key suppliers who will be able to meet our requirements for traceable and certified palm oil. We will work with suppliers, traders and refiners who can source palm oil and derivatives that will be traceable to known sources for the vast majority of our purchased oils.

We also recognise the importance of sourcing palm oil from smallholders, and our priority will be to purchase from suppliers with volumes that can be traced to known smallholders. Over time, we expect these suppliers to ensure that all their sources will become certified.

Respect for Land Rights

We recognise that respect for land rights is critical for food security and for inclusive social and economic development. The practice of land grabbing does not lead to sustainable and equitable growth and must be stopped. We are committed to the principle of free, prior and informed consent. This is included in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. Unilever supports the implementation of these guidelines by national authorities.

We also recognise the right of women to land ownership and access to land. One of the Fundamental Principles of Unilever’s Responsible Sourcing Policy is that the land rights of communities, including indigenous peoples, will be protected and promoted. A mandatory requirement is that due diligence relating to established rights to property and land is undertaken.

How do we address concerns with our palm oil suppliers?

We seek to engage constructively with our suppliers in order to achieve sustainable practices across the industry. So far, we have found that our key suppliers are committed to making this change happen.

When allegations about unsustainable practices are made, these are investigated and, if proven, we work with our suppliers to correct them. We believe that as a first step, it is better to work with suppliers to help them move to more sustainable agricultural methods. However, we will always take a firm stance with suppliers who do not comply, which could result in excluding them from our supply base.

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