Unilever and SAP pilot blockchain technology supporting deforestation-free palm oil
22 Mar 2022 --- In a successful proof of concept in Indonesia, Unilever has applied GreenToken to source more than 188,000 tons of oil palm fruit. The solution helps Unilever track, verify and report in near real-time the origins and journey that palm oil takes through its long and complex supply chain.
The solution enabled Golden Agri-Resources and other suppliers from whom Unilever sources to create “tokens” that mirror the material flow of the palm oil throughout the supply chain and capture the unique attributes linked to the oil’s origin.
“With GreenToken, we want to bring the same traceability and supply chain transparency to bulk raw materials that you get from scanning a bar or QR code on any consumer product,” remarks Nitin Jain, co-founder and general manager of GreenToken by SAP, a venture focused on supply chain transparency for more ethical business.
“Our solution allows companies to tell what percentage of palm oil products they purchased from a sustainable origin and track it to the end consumer product.”
The trouble with sourcing ethically
Raw materials like palm oil are often mixed with physically identical raw materials from verified sustainable and non-verified sources after the “first mile” of the supply chain, causing the origin information to be either hidden or lost.
“Technology has played an important role in our efforts to enhance visibility and transparency in our own palm oil supply chains,” says Anita Neville, chief sustainability and communications officer at Golden Agri-Resources.
“Our participation in the GreenToken by SAP solution pilot with SAP and Unilever provided useful insights in how to successfully pass information between different actors in the supply chain.”
Previously, Unilever linked up with US-based tech company Orbital Insight to use geospatial analytics to track its palm oil supply chain, in a move touted as bringing a “new level of sophistication to traceability.”
“Unilever is committed to achieving a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023, and blockchain technology has the potential to help companies, like ours, track their supply chains to ensure the commodities we source respect people and the planet,” comments Dave Ingram, chief procurement officer at Unilever.
“We are encouraged by the promising results of our pilot with GreenToken by SAP, the latest building block in our tech-enabled approach to ensure a more traceable and transparent supply chain.”
Blockchain is increasingly hailed as a “tamper-proof” solution, widely leveraged across supply chains for cocoa, coffee and Amazonian beef. The technology offers brands an opportunity to engage consumers with trustworthy storytelling about the origins of their food.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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