Unilever takes early stand on sustainable soy sourcing

Certificates cover oil used in margarine and some dressings.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor
Image courtesy of stock.xchng

One of the goals outlined late last year by massive consumer products company Unilever (think Ben & Jerry's ice cream or Lipton's tea) is to source all (100 percent) of its raw agricultural materials sustainably by 2020. Right now, it is only at around 10 percent; by 2012, it is shooting for 30 percent.

So, I read with interest that Unilever is supposedly one of the first companies to commit to buying certificates for sustainable soy through the Round Table on Responsible Soy. The certificates, which were bought by the company's Brazilian division, cover 5,000 tons of sustainable soy oil that will be used in products including margarine and dressings. There is only one company certified today, apparently, but there are more than 150 member organizations involved with the Round Table working on this issue.

Unilever currently purchases 1 percent of the world's soy supply. Said Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Unilever's chief supply chain officer: "We can't change agricultural practices across the world overnight, but by working closely with others -- suppliers, farmers, NGOs and other businessses -- we can begin to precipitate change."

Unilever's goal is to source all of its soy bean sustainably by 2014 and all soy oils by 2020. This certification move is the first major step toward those goals.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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