That is the vision expressed by Unilever in its Sustainable Palm Oil Progress Report 2014, which states that all palm oil directly sourced for its European Foods business will be 100% traceable and certified sustainable by the end of 2014.

The company now has visibility of around 1,800 crude palm oil mills and 58% of the global volume of palm oil is now traceable to known mills. Knowing the origin of palm oil is crucial in the fight against deforestation and in helping communities and saving the environment.

INFOGRAPHIC: Palm product traceability between January and September 2014

Now, through its global smallholder farmer programme, Unilever hopes to engage with at least 500,000 smallholder farmers in its supply network, improving livelihoods, incomes and working conditions.

Creating transparency

The organisation’s chief supply chain officer Pier Luigi Sigismondi said: “2014 has been a defining year for our goal to create a more transparent palm oil industry. Knowing where it comes from is a critical step in the journey. The challenge is enormous and not easy to achieve but we are determined and can now report good progress. We want to share our learnings with the rest of the industry.”

“This is about doing the right thing for our planet and our consumers because you cannot have a healthy business in an unhealthy world. We want to continue to meet our consumers’ every day needs in decades to come and this means sourcing in a fully sustainable way to future proof our supply chains. Halting deforestation is our end goal and this is what we work towards.”

Unilever is working with industry leaders and NGOs to halt deforestation, protect peat land, and make sure the right balance is struck between social, environmental and economic objectives.

In September, the company joined forces with the Department for International Development (DFID) to create jobs, improve water and sanitation, and improve sustainable supply chains in developing countries.

Lois Vallely

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