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PemPem supports Unilever to gain greater traceability and efficiency in the smallholder palm oil supply chain

Joann De Zegher

Nov 27, 2023

PemPem will be onboarding the first batch of 10 mills and 10,000 smallholder farmers in Riau and North Sumatra for Unilever, and traded volumes are expected to grow rapidly over 2024.

Thanks to PemPem’s proven expertise in providing farm-to-mill traceable transactions, their partnership will make it possible for Unilever to determine with precision the origin of palm fruit batches, while supporting smallholder farmers in obtaining fairer prices and maintaining access to markets in light of the new EU Regulation on Deforestation-free products.

For Unilever, PemPem’s support provides a crucial link in creating traceability all the way to independent smallholders, allowing them to engage with the actors right across their supply chain. And for PemPem, it means onboarding more smallholder farmers faster, enabling them to rapidly increase traded amounts of traceable palm fruit.  

PemPem is able to support Unilever in closing the loop on traceability as its area of operation has always been at the level of the smallholder – the actor at the very beginning of the supply chain. It is this level of granularity that is typically challenging for commercial commodity buyers to achieve. PemPem has worked to create and widely disseminate its app throughout the smallholder ecosystem, digitizing transactions of fresh fruit bunches and capturing material flow in the first mile. 

The “stickiness” of the PemPem solution however comes from their real-world engagement in the transaction. More than simply a tech provider, PemPem acts as a market-maker in brokering transactions between smallholders and mills and then fulfilling them, arranging transport to deliver the fruit to the mill. Once the fresh fruit bunches are received by the mill, payment is made securely through the app.  

“I am impressed by Unilever’s leadership and commitment to sustainability.” says de Zegher, “Where many in the industry are satisfied with an approximation of palm fruit origin, Unilever is leveraging PemPem’s technology to reliably trace palm fruit batches to the producing smallholder farms and to engage with their smallholder farmer suppliers at scale, creating a truly sustainable supply chain.”

About Unilever’s commitment to a sustainable palm oil supply chain

Unilever is driving real change in the palm oil industry by implementing a strategy that goes beyond relying on the existing limited certified supply base and moving to purchase volumes that can be ascertained as deforestation-free. Unilever is focused on engaging a section of the industry that has been largely left out of the sustainable supply chain: independent mills and their smallholder supply base. Working with independent mills and smallholders means helping the industry achieve higher levels of sustainability, traceability and transparency, and gaining more visibility within the supply chain. 

Learn more about Unilever’s commitment to increasing sustainability in its palm oil supply chain.

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