Unilever Slippery customers
Palm oil is our industry’s dirty little secret, an ingredient that is used in everything, and that causes the wholesale destruction of millions of acres of tropical forests. And by everything, we mean shampoo, noodles, pizza dough, lipstick, ice cream, detergent, bread, biodiesel, soap and pretty much everything in between. It’s currently indispensable, and the only hope for ethical businesses is to source it from sustainable, forest-friendly plantations. The problem there is that the stuff is hard to trace, so there’s never any real certainty about where it has come from.
Enter Unilever, which is testing a cell phone geolocation data network to track palm oil over thousands of supply chains to determine where it originated. Digging under the bonnet a little, the tech will be enabled by Orbital Insight, which will use a combination of geo-fencing, anonymous mobile data and satellite imagery to monitor movement of trucks and their deliveries, and to identify any deforestation that has taken place in the past, or recently, at suppliers’ sites.
Comment: Spooky, but commendable.