Unilever Indonesia

Supporting Small Farms Increases Soy Sauce Supply

1787 686A


Amelia Naim Indrajaya

Amelia Naim Indrajaya


IPMI International Business School

IPMI International Business School


Amelia Naim Indrajaya

Amelia Naim Indrajaya

Global Goals

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

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How to meet increasing demands of a traditional product based on black soybeans, while supporting farmers? Unilever Indonesia engaged a university in research, providing funding. The university developed a new non genetically modified organic strain,that was more resistant and helped farmers. Farmers cultivated the ‘new’ traditional black soybean and sold them to Unilever.

This is an innovative model of partnership and collaboration. This solution included forming a novel business model among a university, business (Unilever), community (farmers), and media which is promoting traditional dishes on TV.


Black soybeans have long been part of the culinary culture of Indonesia since the 12th century. However as production increased there were not sufficient black soybeans and the four varieties began to disappear from the farmers' fields. In 2001, Unilever Indonesia Plc acquired Anugerah Setia Lestari Plc which produced soy sauce with black soybeans as its raw material. Then Unilever decided to collaborate with the University of Gadjah Mada (UGM), who conducted research on the soy sauce formula to maintain its flavor, and finding soybean varieties that were most suitable for soy sauce.

To get a variety that is stable with high productivity, it requires at least 10 generations. After this long journey in the laboratory and the field, a new variety of black soybean was discovered. DNA test results in 2004 proved that the seeds developed through this strain purification were a totally new variety. This variety was developed by using a purification process without any genetic manipulation.

Supporting Small Farms Increases Soy Sauce Supply


"We cannot close our eyes to the challenges that the world faces. Business must make an explicit and positive contribution to addressing them. I’m convinced we can create a more equitable and sustainable world for all of us by doing so,” says Unilever CEO Paul Polman. “But this means that business has to change.”

Unilever recognized that approximately half of their raw materials come from agriculture and forestry. Part of the plan is to empower thousands of small farmers to take small everyday actions to improve the quality and yield from their crops. This provides the joint benefit of improving the lives of the farmers and securing high quality soybeans.

“We are at a turning point in history, a point where we all need to change for human life on the planet to continue to prosper. A new business model with sustainability at its heart is vital for quality of life around the globe to improve. Only the businesses that grasp this will survive. Only those who grow sustainably will thrive,” Mr. Polman expressed in his vision statement.

Overall impact

This synergy is also supported by Unilever Indonesia Foundation as a provider of production facilities for the farmers and the union. In the center, there is a university (UGM) that contributes its expertise, shares its knowledge as well as assisting the farmers to farm timely and correctly avoiding the risks of pests and diseases that could lead to harvest failure.

Business benefit

Unilever and Gadjah Mada University lend the seeds to the farmers. When the harvest comes, the farmers restore the seeds and sell the harvest to Unilever as ingredient to soy sauce sold through their acquired subsidiary, Anugerah Setia Lestari Plc.

Social and environmental benefit

Thousands of farmers now earn a living thanks to the financing, training and support of Unilever allowing them to stay on the land and raise their families.


Mr. Sanjoyo and Ms. Maya F. Tamimi, Director and Environment & Sustainable Manager

Business information

Unilever Indonesia

Unilever Indonesia

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