• Condensed by Michelle Pelletier Marshall

Full disclosure of palm oil sources by Unilever could be industry game changer

As the first consumer goods company to publish a full dossier of suppliers and mills that it sources palm oil from, Unilever has stepped up the game towards a more sustainable palm oil industry, possibly spurring some of the other big players in the palm oil supply chain to follow suit.

Citing its commitment to transparency and providing confidence to its customers and consumers that the palm oil used in its products has been sustainably sourced, the company has made this industry-first disclosure.

Global palm oil production has more than doubled since the late 1990s, and by 2014 palm oil accounted for 33 percent of the global production total of 200 million metric tons, according to a white paper by HighQuest Consulting. But despite it’s versatility and efficiency and the fact that palm oil is now the world’s number one source of vegetable oil, the palm oil industry is saddled with concerns about deforestation – contributing to climate change and biodiversity loss – and unlawful labor practices.

One of the major issues in the sector is sourcing from third-party suppliers and the fact that many of those buying this controversial commodity are dodging responsibility when it comes to the actions of third-party suppliers.

Unilever, and other companies such as Nestlé and Hershey, have made strides in creating meaningful palm oil practices, and in fact Unilever is a founding member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which seeks to bring transparency to the palm oil supply chain.

“Unilever believes that complete transparency is needed for radical transformation,” said Unilever’s Chief Supply Chain Officer Marc Engel, to FoodIngredientsFirst. “We want this step to be the start of a new industry-wide movement.”

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Lynda Kiernan is Editor with HighQuest Group Media and of the Oilseed & Grain News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@highquestgroup.com.

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