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Unilever announced a significant move in its journey to accelerate market transformation toward sustainable palm oil, announcing that by the end of 2014, all of the palm oil Unilever buys globally will be traceable to known sources.
Marc Engel, chief procurement officer with Unilever, says, "Market transformation can only happen if everyone involved takes responsibility and is held accountable for driving a sustainability agenda. Our progress has been made possible by the commitment and efforts of a number of our strategic suppliers. We will continue to engage with our suppliers, NGOs, governments, RSPO, end users and other industry stakeholders to develop collaborative solutions to halt deforestation, protect peat land, and to drive positive economic and social impact for people and local communities."
Richard Holland, director of WWF’s Market Transformation Initiative, said, "Unilever’s 2014 commitment marks a very promising step on the continuing journey toward real market transformation to sustainable palm oil. Unilever’s role and actions have been instrumental on this journey so far. They helped us establish the RSPO in 2004 and have been closely involved in its development into a credible institution and standard. But as importantly Unilever has also matched its commitment with action on buying RSPO certified sustainable palm oil. That is why we ranked Unilever among the top scorers in the industry in our Palm Oil Scorecard. But the journey is not over. We will continue to work with Unilever and others through the RSPO to encourage further certification by growers and buying of certified palm oil by manufacturers and retailers. WWF also encourages leading companies in the sector to set the industry benchmarks on important issues like traceability, protection of peat lands, significant GHG reductions and no deforestation. We urge other companies along the palm oil value chain to follow the lead shown by Unilever."
Unilever is one of the world’s major buyers of palm oil for use in products such as margarine, ice cream, soap and shampoo. It purchases around 1.5 million tonnes of palm oil and its derivatives annually, which represents about 3% of the world’s total production.
Unilever is committed to driving market transformation towards a more sustainable palm oil sector. The company was a founder member of the RSPO and co-chair the consumer goods forum steering group on sustainability and has led the process which resulted in the creation of the Tropical Forest Alliance, a multi-stakeholder collaboration involving governments with the goal of eliminating deforestation.