ICT and Big Data
Unilever Using New App to Assess Suppliers' Sustainability Progress

Unilever is using the new Greenlight Assessments iPad app from Muddy Boots Software to gain immediate access to sustainability progress from its agricultural suppliers, according to Muddy Boots. Greenlight offers a portable data-collection solution and enables companies to collaborate with its suppliers on any type of audit or assessment, allowing information to be shared both up and down the supply chain.

“The complex nature of the food industry dictates that many of our customers across the supply chain are required to complete lengthy assessments in order to satisfy their customers’ requirements,” explained Josh Snook, business development manager at Muddy Boots. “It is our job to simplify this process whilst maintaining rigour and data integrity.”

The new app works with and boosts Muddy Boots’ Quickfire system, a self-assessment system adopted by Unilever across its fresh produce supply chain in 2007. The system tracks and monitors progress against Unilever's Sustainable Agriculture Code and helps to create evidence-based improvement plans.

“It provides another simple and flexible way for Unilever suppliers to collect data,” said David Pendlington, Procurement Operations Director at Unilever. “Assessments can now be completed when travelling or during farm visits, making data collection and submission a more efficient and streamlined process. This means that Unilever can view supplier sustainability achievements without delay. Partnerships with our suppliers are key to us delivering the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and this is another step in the right direction.”

The app was released in early February and is available for free at the iTunes App Store. “We have been delighted with the positive feedback so far,” said Snook said.

In January, Unilever, PepsiCo, Heineken, M&S and other members of The Cool Farm Institute (CFI) launched The Cool Farm Tool, a new carbon-management web app to help farmers assess and improve the environmental and economic performance of their businesses. The CFI, a project of the Sustainable Food Lab, used the launch of the Tool to also call for greater industry collaboration on agricultural sustainability, saying that, due to the scale and complexity of the challenge, more cooperation is essential to secure an environmentally responsible, climate resilient and economically sustainable food system.

Apps and mobile technology are being employed by brands in a number of industries to provide greater supply chain visibility. Last year, Nike unveiled its Making app, which helps designers assess the environmental impact of the materials they use.

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