Snack food giants failing on palm oil targets

The world’s largest food snack companies are falling short on their commitments to halt deforestation and other impacts caused by growing palm oil consumption.


That is according to a new study of the eight largest global consumers of palm oil: Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mondelēz, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars and The Hershey Company.

It found that the traceability, monitoring, verification and grievance systems of all these companies are not yet effective in preventing their products from being contaminated with illegal or unethical palm oil.

Mondelēz, General Mills, and Kellogg’s perform worst in the ranking after failing to meet their own pledges to stop deforestation and exploitation of indigenous people and workers.

Unilever – the world’s single largest palm oil buyer – performs best, and joins PepsiCo, Nestlé, and The Hershey Company in delivering on commitments to protect the Leuser Ecosystem in Indonesia from further destruction caused by palm oil expansion.

Along with deforestation and exploitation of indigenous people, the massive expansion of palm oil plantations in Borneo and Sumatra are thought to be the main threat to orangutan populations in the wild.

“The threats to tropical rainforests have never been greater,” said RAN campaigner Robin Averbeck. “Despite corporate commitments against deforestation, forests around the world continue to fall.

“Paper promises have not stopped deforestation, threats to endangered species, or delivered respect for human rights or remedy for exploitation of indigenous peoples, local communities and workers.”

The findings show that Unilever has made progress establishing collaborative deforestation monitoring systems and innovative ways to track the source of the palm oil it uses.

However, it has fallen short on the delivery of forest protection, remedy for labour and land rights abuse in its supply chain, and lacks adequate systems for identifying, cutting or reforming unethical suppliers.

None of the eight companies studied can yet communicate to customers the plantations or farms were all the palm oil they source is grown.

RAN said that achieving this level of traceability is an integral towards the full implementation of their responsible palm oil policy commitments.

"There are no credible reasons why these snack food giants should be sourcing conflict palm oil,” Averbeck added.


Image credit: ©iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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