Unilever, one of the largest FMCG companies in the world, purchases 1% of the world’s soy, which underscores the importance and versatility of soy and its importance to the global economy.
“Soy and soybean oil are used in a huge range of Unilever products including spreads, mayonnaise, dressings and pasta sauces,” according to David Pendlington, Procurement Operations Manager at Unilever (below left).
Most of the soy used by Unilever is grown in North America and Latin America. Latin America is of particular relevance as the impact of soy agriculture on High Conservation Areas such as the Cerrado and the Amazon is well documented. It is therefore one of the regions where the benefits of the RTRS will be most strongly felt. Because of this, Unilever became a long-term advocate of the use of responsible soy and in 2006 was a founding member of the RTRS.
In June 2011 on the first day RTRS accredited soy was available for purchase, Unilever proved its commitment to responsible soy by being one of the first organisations to buy RTRS certificates along with a Dutch collective, IDS (Initiatief Duurzame Soja, Initiative Sustainable Soy).
Mr Pendlington said, “In our Sustainable Living plan we commit to sourcing all soy sustainably by 2020.We are engaging our key suppliers in all regions and are building the roadmap to achieve our 2020 USLP stated target of 100% sustainability.”
“We will sustainably purchase all soy beans by 2014 and all soy oils by 2020.”
“Certified soy will help curb the environmental impact of soy production which, in Latin America, can lead to rainforest destruction,” David said while pointing out that there is no “one size fits all” way of ending environmental damage through soy agriculture, however, through the RTRS, there is an opportunity to begin improving the industry to minimise the social and environmental impact.
“We believe the way to make soy cultivation responsible in the long term is for us to work closely with others – industry leaders, NGOs and other businesses – on developing internationally recognised standards, compliance programmes and certification systems.”
“These will ultimately help protect biodiversity and lead to a more responsible approach to soy cultivation. We will also ensure that we apply our own sustainability principles to the soy we buy.”