MECHELEN, BELGIUM — Cargill said on July 9 that it has supplied the first-ever sustainable verified rapeseed oil to Unilever with an initial consignment covering 5% of Unilever’s rapeseed oil needs.

In the next three years Cargill’s European refined oils and grain & oilseed businesses will be able to meet all of Unilever’s sustainable rapeseed oil needs, which is used in products including margarines and mayonnaises. As a strategic supplier, Cargill is playing a key role in supporting Unilever’s ambitious target to source 100% of its agricultural raw materials as part of its Sustainable Living Plan by 2020.

Cargill and Unilever worked in partnership to verify German oilseed rape production against the Unilever sustainable agriculture code, building on an initial pilot project started in 2008. A positive outcome of the work is Cargill and Unilever now have established a repeatable model that can be applied to drive sustainability within other oilseed crops in the future.

Through this commitment on rapeseed, Unilever, Cargill and farmers will agree annual improvement plans beyond those required by mandated European good agricultural practice. This will include optimizing agricultural inputs and agreeing biodiversity action plans to support environmental and habitat enhancement. Such actions will involve increasing available habitat for insects, including wild bees.

"Unilever has 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 percent from 10 percent in 2010. 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,” said David Pendlington, Unilever procurement operations manager - sustainable sourcing. “Today’s announcement demonstrates the strength and commitment of our partnership. Cargill is a strategic partner for our oils and foods ingredients. We recognize their leadership role in converting to sustainable oils.”

“Our partnership with Unilever is an example our both companies’ strong commitment to supporting responsible supply chains,” said Juergen Keil, supply chain director, Cargill Refined Oils Europe. “We are combining our supply chain expertise and industry knowledge to provide customers with choices to meet their particular requirements. We are very pleased to partner with Unilever and see this as a big step forward toward sustainability in rapeseed oil and other oilseed crops.”