US: Cargill signs Unilever sustainable rapeseed oil deal

By Michelle Russell | 11 July 2012

  •  Cargill to supply "first-ever" sustainable rapeseed oil to Unilever

US agribusiness firm Cargill has supplied what it claims is the first-ever sustainable verified rapeseed oil to consumer giant Unilever.

In an initial deal announced this week, the consignment will cover 5% of Unilever's rapeseed oil needs, which is used in products such as margarines and mayonnaises.

The agreement builds on an initial pilot project between the two firms started in 2008 and has resulted in what Cargill says is a "repeatable model" that can be "applied to drive sustainability within other oilseed crops in the future".

"The rapeseed oil that we are supplying to meet Unilever's sustainable rapeseed oil requirements is produced and verified to ensure compliance with the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code," a spokesperson told just-food.

The code, which was introduced by Unilever in 2010, asks its suppliers and the farmers who supply them, to adopt sustainable practices on their farms.

"The work was a joint collaboration between Cargill and Unilever," the spokesperson said. "In 2008, we initiated a pilot project in Germany [the world's largest producer of rapeseed] to assess the sustainability of farming practices in Germany and establish criteria for sustainable oilseed rape. The success of the project has now enabled us to deliver the first-ever sustainable verified rapeseed oil to Unilever and also establish a model that can be applied to drive sustainability within other oilseed crops in the future."

The spokesperson said the rapeseed oil that is being supplied to Unilever is being sourced from the Salzgitter region in Germany.

She added that, at the present time, Unilever is the first customer to take delivery of sustainable rapeseed oil but that it hopes to "expand the offering to other customers".

David Pendlington, Unilever procurement operations manager for sustainable sourcing, said the company had a "bold ambition" to double the size of its business whilst halving the environmental impact of its products.

"In 2011 we increased the volume of sustainable sourced agricultural raw materials to 24% from 10% in 2010," he said. "This shows we are making good progress. However, to achieve our ambition, it is vital that we work in closer partnership with our strategic suppliers like Cargill."

Sectors: Commodities & ingredients, Dairy, Sustainability & the environment

Companies: Unilever, Cargill

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