Unilever: Combatting Global Food Waste
The global consumer goods company Unilever was on pace to hit a number of aggressive targets by 2020 as part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Project, including a goal to halve the waste associated with the disposal of its products. Unilever's Chief Supply Chain Officer Pier Luigi Sigismondi and his team were working towards this goal and had chosen to first focus on three key areas-sugar, tomatoes, and tea-and had analyzed where in the 'farm to fork' value chain product was wasted. This analysis showed that very little was wasted within areas of the value chain directly controlled by Unilever, and most occurred either upstream with its suppliers or downstream with consumers. How could Unilever encourage these actors to change established practices and entrenched behaviors within a short timeframe to help Unilever meet its sustainability targets and also to improve the operations of its partners in the value chain? By encouraging consumers to better manage their food purchases, did Unilever risk harming its own sales or those of its retail customers? Could Unilever encourage industry-wide changes to have a real impact on global environmental sustainability?