The palm oil supply chain is long and complex, with the palm oil changing hands many times before it reaches our factories. The fruit is grown on plantations where farmers sell their produce to middle men and agents. They in turn supply it to a mill where the fruit bunches are processed. Next it is transported via traders to refineries for further processing. Only after this point does it enter our direct supply chain.
Transparency and traceability are important as we can only effectively address the systemic issues associated with how palm oil is cultivated and produced – such as deforestation and human rights abuses – if we know exactly where the problems are. Having greater visibility across the entire supply chain will help accelerate transformation of the industry.
As Unilever’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, Marc Engel, explains: “We have been long committed to lead the drive towards transparency and the best way to demonstrate this is by opening up our own supply chain. Due to traditional commercial sensitivities and the complexity of the palm oil supply chain, it has required perseverance to get to where we are now. We are very proud to be the first consumer goods company to take this step. Unilever believes that complete transparency is needed for radical transformation. We want this step to be the start of a new industry-wide movement.”