Sustainable sourcing of raw materials

Unilever is one of the largest buyers of black tea, tomatoes and palm oil produced in the world. The decisions that we make on who we source from, and how we work with them, can have profound implications on global resources and climate change. They also have a wider social impact, affecting the livelihoods of our farmers and their families, women and young people. Our progress on sourcing has been strong. We are first concentrating on our main agricultural raw materials.

Sustainable palm oil

In 2016, Unilever refreshed its Palm Oil Policy and brought forward the target from 2020 to 2019. We also stopped buying Green Palm certificates. In 2018, we continued our process of buying RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified palm oil to achieve the ambition of reaching 100% sustainable sourcing by 2019.

We have signed multiple partnerships to drive market transformation and traceability of the supply chain. These partnerships also focus on commitments to the principles of no deforestation, no development on peatlands, and driving positive economic and social impact for people and communities. Our policy principles include smallholder farmers and women, commit to no exploitation of people or communities, and transparency.

Sustainable paper & board

We have sourced 100% of our volumes of sustainably sourced paper and board for packing our products in 2018. This paper & board has come from mills that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. We continue our endeavours to move to lower grammage paper to reduce consumption of paper and board.

Sustainable tea

A total of 586 tea estates in India are trustea[1] verified and a total of 290 tea estates in India are Rainforest Alliance[2] certified. In 2018, 65% of the tea sourced from India for Unilever brands was from sustainable sources.

Sustainable fruits & vegetables

In 2018, 100% of tomatoes used in Kissan ketchup continued to be sourced sustainably. The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project, which began in 2012 between HUL and Maharashtra Government for sustainable sourcing of tomatoes, has become self-sustaining since 2015. In 2018, HUL continued to provide these farmers with a buy-back guarantee for their produce. HUL also offers farmers knowledge and expertise in sustainable agriculture practices in tomato cultivation. This includes the latest agricultural techniques, irrigation practices and recommendation of the right type of seeds. Around 8,000 farmers across the country grow tomatoes for us sustainably.

Sustainable coffee

Chicory root extract forms around 40% of HUL’s coffee by volume. We started the sustainability journey in chicory by implementing the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture code (USAC) in 2015-16 cropping season with 100 smallholder farmers (SHFs). By the end of 2018, 100% of the chicory was sourced sustainably as all the Unilever chicory farmers in India were covered under the USAC implementation scheme.

There are around 1,307 smallholder farmers working on an area of 2,200 acres in North India, and nine suppliers who have benefitted from this arrangement. The farmers have benefitted through improved productivity, better soil health, improved quality, improved health & safety of the SHFs, families and workers, better farming practices resulting in higher yields. This has also led to a 25% increase in productivity of chicory.  

[1] trustea is a multi-stakeholder program, locally developed and owned India sustainability tea code

[2]The Rainforest Alliance is a growing network of farmers, foresters, communities, scientists, governments, environmentalists, and businesses dedicated to conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods