We are conscious that the decisions we make can have a significant impact on natural resources and climate change, based on who we source our raw materials from and how we work with them. We therefore primarily focus on our main agricultural raw materials and continue to display steady progress in sustainable sourcing.
Sustainable palm oil
In 2016, Unilever refreshed its Palm Oil Policy and brought forward its target from 2020 to 2019. We also stopped buying Green Palm certificates. Leveraging various industry and NGO partnerships to drive market transformation and traceability of the supply chain in India, our partnerships 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. In 2019, we continued our process of buying RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified palm oil and achieved the ambition of 100% sustainable sourcing, as per our Palm Policy.
Sustainable paper and board
Committed to protecting the natural resources that help our business grow, in 2019, we sourced and used 100% sustainable paper and board for packing our products. Our resources come from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified mills, thereby supporting our efforts to utilise lower grammage paper to reduce the overall consumption of paper and board.
A total of 653 tea estates in India are trustea verified and a total of 263 tea estates in India are Rainforest Alliance certified as on 2019, in states of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. About 48% of India’s tea production is trustea verified as on end 2019 impacting 55.6k tea Small Holder Farmers (SHF), forming about 26% of India’s tea SHFs and 620k tea workers of which, 56% are women. In 2019, 78% of the tea sourced from India for Unilever brands was from sustainable sources.
Sustainable fruits and vegetables
In 2019, 76% of tomatoes used in Kissan ketchup continued to be sourced sustainably. The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project, which began in 2012 between HUL and the Government of Maharashtra for sustainable sourcing of tomatoes, has become self-sustaining since 2015.
In 2019, HUL continued to provide the farmers with a buy-back guarantee for their produce, along with knowledge and expertise in sustainable agriculture practices in tomato cultivation. This includes the latest agricultural techniques, irrigation practices and recommendations of the right type of seeds. New tomato varietals were deployed in 2019 (Varietal Name: UG 101) on 500 acres which have higher yield potential and take lesser time (90 days) to harvest vs traditional varieties (150-180 days). Higher colour of tomatoes fetch better prices for the farmers and helps enhance farmer realisations. During 2019, around 8,000 farmers across the country grew tomatoes for Unilever.
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 2019, 100% of the chicory was sourced sustainably as all the Unilever chicory farmers in India were covered under the USAC implementation scheme.
1,307 smallholder farmers working on an area of 2,200 acres in North India, and nine suppliers have benefitted from this arrangement. The SHFs have benefitted through improved productivity, better soil health, improved quality, and improved health and safety of themselves, as well as their families and workers. With better farming practices resulting in higher yields, we have witnessed 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.