Unilever`s Sustainable Sourcing

Unilever`s Sustainable Sourcing
Case Code: CSRS016
Case Length: 6 Pages
Period: 2010-2021
Pub Date: 2023
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.300
Organization: Unilever Plc
Industry: Conglomerate
Countries: United Kingdom
Themes: Sustainability, Business Level Strategies,Socially-responsible,Business Practices,Supply Chain Management
Unilever`s Sustainable Sourcing
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


This case discusses multinational consumer goods company Unilever’s cost reduction through sustainable sourcing. In March 2021, Unilever reported that it had reduced operating costs by $1.5 billion since 2008. In 2010, Unilever launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), aimed to make its business operations more sustainable, ecologically friendly, and socially beneficial. The company set a goal of sourcing 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020.

Although the company made significant progress in its commitment to 100% sustainable sourcing, it could not hit the target within the set deadline. Unilever, however, continued to work toward achieving the parameters in the USLP beyond 2020. But there were several challenges like its complex global supply chain, certification policies on sustainable sourcing, sourcing from smallholder farmers who lacked knowledge or training, achieving full traceability and transparency across complex supply chains, etc., that the company was facing in scaling up its sustainable practices. Given the wide range of raw materials sourced and the length and complexity of its supply chain, it remained to be seen whether the company would be successful in achieving its ambitious goal of 100% sustainable sourcing and continue to save on costs.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Understand the concept of sustainable sourcing
  • Analyze how organizations benefit by sourcing sustainably
  • Evaluate the challenges in sustainable sourcing



Unilever; Cost saving strategy; Sustainable Sourcing ; Supply chain ; Strategy Sustainability

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