Unilever wants to make sustainable palm oil mainstream

The consumer goods giant has partnered with Indonesian palm oil company PT Perkebunan Nusantara to support local mills and farmers

Unilever has expressed its ambition to make sustainable palm oil mainstream.

Marc Engel, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Unilever, explained that the company has been working “really hard” to make the ambition a reality and has been evolving its approach over the years.

Most recently, Unilever signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Indonesian government-owned palm oil plantation company PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) to work together to support local mills and farmers to produce palm oil according to NDPE standards.

These standards include no deforestation, no development on peat and no exploitation of people and communities.

Engel said: “We are involved in various partnerships to help smallholder farmers improve their yields while protecting the environment and local communities.

“The MoU with PTPN is the first time we can apply the produce-protect model at scale – our partnership will have a positive impact in Indonesia from an environmental, social and economic perspective which makes it unique to the industry.”

As a holding company, PTPN III manages ± 61% of its area as oil palm plantations divided into ten subsidiaries, some of which are already certified sustainable.

Erwan Pelawi, Operating Managing Director PTPN III Holding Company, added: “Palm oil from smallholders also enters our supply chain through PTPN Group's palm oil mills.

“Therefore, being able to source from certified smallholder farmers gives us the ability to produce quality and sustainable palm oil products.

“The MoU with Unilever is expected to improve the quality of how smallholder farmers manage palm oil cultivation and will also accelerate the process of sustainable palm oil certification, which will in turn provide better benefits for the welfare of oil palm farmers in Indonesia”.

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