Working towards a sustainable environment

Unilever-owned ice cream brand Wall’s will launch a new digital tool enabling consumers to track how their purchases are empowering people in the communities which form its vanilla supply chains in Africa.

<p>Wall's has already reached 40,000 people across 76 Madagascan villages through its programmes for vanilla farmers</p>

Wall’s has already reached 40,000 people across 76 Madagascan villages through its programmes for vanilla farmers

The tool, called ‘Track Your Impact’, will let customers scan a unique code from their ice cream or ice lolly packaging using their tablet or smartphone. They will then be shown information on how the money raised through their purchase is providing health insurance, education and financial literacy to vanilla farmers and their families.

Due to go live later today (17 May), the tool will form part of a new communications campaign called “Vanilla for Change”, aimed at engaging consumers with Wall’s’ work to champion environmental and social sustainability across its vanilla supply chains in Madagascar, where 80% of the world’s vanilla is produced. 

The brand has been working with international charity Save the Children and flavour manufacturer Symrise for three years in a drive to provide more stable farmer incomes and to champion long-term sustainability across rural farming communities. To date, this partnership has positively impacted more than 40,000 people across 76 villages, providing 9,000 households with health insurance; 2,700 farmers with business school training and 2,400 young people with education services.

In a bid to increase its positive impact on farmer livelihoods, Wall’s has forged an additional partnership with social enterprise ME-to-WE. Under the partnership, a portion of the profits created through the sale of Wall’s’ most popular five products (Cornetto Strawberry, Cornetto Classico, Calippo Combo Vanilla Strawberry and Solero Exotic) will be donated directly to ME-to-WE’s citizenship scheme, WE Schools. WE Schools provides free educational resources to teachers and free learning activities to students. Wall’s estimates that the money raised through its partnership with ME-to-WE will support 100,000 young people across the UK.

“We can make a real difference through our Vanilla for Change programme, in the communities in Madagascar who farm our vanilla as well as amongst young people in the UK, both of whom we are hugely passionate about,” Unilever UK & Ireland’s general manager Sebastian Munden said.

“These are two causes we are really committed to.”

Sustainable Living leadership

Wall’s is one of Unilever’s ‘Sustainable Living’ brands – a cohort of 26 brands which aim to integrate sustainability into the wider group’s products and values, which also includes the likes of Vaseline, Dove and Ben & Jerry’s.

This group of brands accounted for a record 70% of Unilever’s total turnover growth in 2017 and are growing 46% faster than the rest of the business – statistics which Unilever claims are proof that sustainability “creates value by driving growth and trust, eliminating costs and reducing risks”.

The company is widely regarded as a sustainability leader in the consumer goods sector and beyond, with flagship targets set in its Sustainable Living Plan including halving the environmental impact of products by 2030, helping one billion people improve their health and wellbeing by 2020 and ensuring all plastic packaging is recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025

It has also been championing sustainability outside of its operations for several years. This week, the company’s chief executive Alan Jope signed an open letter to the US Government, urging President Trump and Congress to implement long-term federal policy on climate change “as soon as possible”.

Known as the CEO Climate Dialogue and co-signed by 12 other corporates and four environmental groups, the letter calls for an economy-wide carbon pricing policy and lays out six key principles which national climate policy for the US should follow – namely that it mandates a reduction of the nation’s carbon emissions of at least 80% by 2050; that it is effective; that it is market-based; that can be adapted over time; that it supports wider environmental and social sustainability and that it promotes equity.

Sarah George