Unilever on track to meet sustainable sourcing target

5 April 2013

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5 April 2013 | Adam Leach

A third of all the agricultural raw materials bought by Unilever now come from sustainable sources, the company has announced.

Under its Sustainable Living Plan, which was launched in 2010, the consumer goods and food manufacturer aims to source 100 per cent of its raw materials from sustainable sources by 2020. This week it announced in pursuit of that target it has exceeded the milestone of achieving 30 per cent, and has now reached a level of 36 per cent coming from a sustainable source.

Unilever’s chief procurement officer Marc Engel said in a statement: “Climate change, water scarcity, unsustainable farming practices, and rising populations all threaten agricultural supplies and food scarcity. 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.”

The company achieved the milestone as a result of working with suppliers to get a variety of raw materials certified as sustainably produced. It has achieved a level of 64 per cent sustainability for the cocoa used in its Magnum ice creams, where it worked with supplier Barry Callebaut to run schools for farmers across Africa to teach and promote sustainable production practices. Unilever has also worked with the Rainforest Alliance to gain sustainable certification for vanilla beans.

Through its Knorr brand the company has used the sustainability of the tomatoes in one of its soups to create a competitive advantage on the shelf by advertising the ingredient prominently.

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