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Ben and Jerry’s Maker Uses Phones to Track Sustainable Palm Oil

  • Ben & Jerry’s maker to boost farm-to-table palm oil tracing
  • Orbital Insight to provide technology to monitor deliveries
A palm oil plantation in a protected area of the Rawa Singkil wildlife reserve in South Aceh, Indonesia.
A palm oil plantation in a protected area of the Rawa Singkil wildlife reserve in South Aceh, Indonesia.Photographer: Januar/AFP via Getty Images
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Unilever is planning to use new geo-location technology to make its palm oil supply chains more transparent and tackle a farm-to-table traceability problem that has plagued the industry for decades.

The maker of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Dove soap will use cell phone geo-location data to track palm oil moving across thousands of supply chains and to achieve the elusive “first-mile” traceability. After a pilot test in Indonesia, Unilever is scaling up that approach to cover all palm facilities in Southeast Asia, including farms, refineries and processing plants, and is looking into whether the technology can be applied to other regions.