Local sourcing of cucumbers
Unilever Philippines has begun local sourcing of cucumbers from farms in Nueva Ecija. The first large-scale harvest of cucumbers, later processed as gherkins, in the towns of Bongabon and Rizal, Nueva Ecija will be used for all Lady’s Choice products in the Philippines. This attains 100% local plantation and production of sweetened relish as part of the production requirements of the well-known spreads brand.
Led by Procurement, Unilever developed a resilience program to ensure a steady and sufficient supply of agricultural raw materials which led to local partnerships with smallholder farmers for sourcing.
The plantation in Nueva Ecija operates in partnership with Sunrich Farms, a Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code (USAC) certified partner, thus ensuring implementation of best agricultural practices. Sunrich also serves as the home of the world-class plant and curing facility for gherkin production.
More than 300 smallholder farmers, working on 80 hectares of land, are given additional livelihood with their inclusion in the Unilever supply chain.The cucumber seeds imported from the Netherlands produce a seedless variety, thus providing a higher yield. Since cucumber is a seasonal crop, farmers are able to have a stable flow of income by utilizing the land for intercropping―harvesting rice, onion, and garlic during peak season and cucumbers when land is idle.
With the improvement of yield, expected to double in the next few years, Unilever Philippines sees export potential to its counterparts across the globe.
Unilever and Sustainable Agriculture
The world’s population will increase to reach more than 9 billion by 2050 which means that a 50% increase of food production is needed by 2030.
Unsustainable farming practices, water scarcity and changing weather patterns all have a serious impact on food security, the environment and farming communities. As such, there is mounting pressure for greater transparency on where food comes from and how it is grown.
Unilever works closely with its supply chain network, including farmers and plantation owners as well as processors, refiners and traders of raw materials to transform farming practices and encourage a wider move towards sustainable sourcing.
To date, Unilever has engaged thousands of small holder famers in its value chain and is looking forward to reaching more lives through its sustainable agriculture agenda.
USAC adheres to sustainable agriculture principles such as producing crops with high yield and nutritional quality, minimizing environmental impact, using renewable resources when possible and enabling communities to protect and improve their well-being and environment.
Unilever Philippines now sources more than 80% of its agricultural raw materials locally and sustainably, having made significant progress towards its ambition of 100% by 2020.
“Sustainability is at the heart of Unilever Philippines business,” says Unilever Marketing Director- Foods Kristine Go. “Sustainable sourcing with local farmers ensures a supply of only quality ingredients for Lady’s Choice. This creates only the best and most delicious products possible from Lady’s Choice, while creating sustainable growth for the community, and farming industry.”
“As a company that caters to consumer needs, it is within our capacity to make our supply chain more inclusive to our local farmers, helping our business grow while improving their livelihiod,” says Unilever Vice President for Sustainable Business and Communications Ed Sunico. “As part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, we are working hard to be able to utilize local sources as part of our commitment towards a sustainable way of doing business, ultimately contributing to more meaningful growth for more Filipinos."