Unilever ramps-up animal care standards
'Embedded sustainability' approach puts welfare-based sourcing at forefront
Posted: October 2, 2014
Another food giant has made a goliath-like move with implications for farm animal care.
Anglo-Dutch based Unilever – the multi-national behind numerous brands from Becel and Hellman's to Knorr and Lipton - has announced updated supply chain standards for animal welfare. They come with teeth, including moves to support addressing difficult issues such as the culling of day-old male chicks.
Unilever is also the world's third largest consumer goods company with brands from Dove to Vaseline in its wide stable. (On any given day, two billion people use Unilever products to "look good, feel good and get more out of life," says the company's website.) The welfare move is sure to send ripples throughout additional layers of the global food industry. For suppliers, it means another major piece to manage among the now swelling ranks of brand-driven animal care demands.
Ambitious action plan
One unique aspect is that Unilever is handling the animal care issue as part of what it calls and "embedded sustainability" approach across all products. Says Unilever, "By 2020 we will source 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably: 10% by 2010; 30% by 2012; 50% by 2015; 100% by 2020."
The phase-in approach mirrors the pathway other key players have adopted. "Our long-term ambition is to purchase all our animal-derived ingredients from sustainable sources," says Unilever. "Taking into account the volumes purchased, we have decided to focus on cage-free eggs and our dairy supply chain within our current sustainable sourcing program. Our approach requires successful implementation by our supply chain partners. We plan to work on a sustainability action plan over a number of years in order to allow our suppliers to adapt to our animal welfare requirements."
Tackling male chicks issue
In what many observers are calling an industry-leading step, Unilever has also pledged funding support for technologies that would eliminate the culling of male chicks in the industry. (The aim is to identify sex and manage this issue before they hatch). Learn more here.