Unilever is currently working with its partner Premise to create a community of local people in Indonesia who will help track palm from point of origin to processing to ensure a sustainable, deforestation-free supply chain.
Technology is a powerful enabler of supply chain traceability and transparency, and crowdsourcing and partnerships are critical to building the capabilities Unilever and the world urgently need to tackle deforestation."
Unilever’s pilot project recruits mill workers and suppliers to provide photos and information about collection points and ramps via Premise’s digital crowdsourcing platform. Contributors are taught how to collect insights in a way that respects people and property laws, and is in line with Indonesia’s regulations.
Premise runs the sourced material through its AI-powered quality control system to verify the credibility of the photos and to ensure collection points are not being double-counted. This helps Unilever to build a better picture of previously undocumented parts of the palm supply chain operating in the area. It also enables the company to take more targeted actions for improvements and determine whether it's supporting smallholder farmers or starting new conversations with suppliers.
In Aceh province in Sumatra, Indonesia, where the pilot was run, Unilever was reportedly able to identify and document more than 5,000 collection points in a single region and gain a clearer understanding of where its palm oil supply is being grown. The company is currently developing a model for scaling the project up, which will include inviting suppliers and other consumer goods companies to join in.
“Individuals, either as consumers or part of an organization can often feel helpless in the face of challenges such as deforestation or climate change,” said Andrew Wilcox, senior manager of sustainable sourcing and digital programs at Unilever.
“Our partnership with Premise is changing that by inviting people on the ground to help us follow the journey raw materials take in the first mile of the supply chain. We believe our pilot in Aceh is the world’s first case of large-scale crowdsourcing technology being applied to commodity sourcing. Technology is a powerful enabler of supply chain traceability and transparency, and crowdsourcing and partnerships are critical to building the capabilities Unilever and the world urgently need to tackle deforestation.”