Answer

The Hershey Company has emerged as a front runner as it has released a responsible palm oil commitment that requires its suppliers to comply with a higher standard than the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) by ending the destruction of rainforests, peatlands and abuse of human and labor rights.

In order to drive real change, The Hershey Company should require compliance across suppliers’ entire operations, verify traceability to known palm oil plantations in high and low-risk regions, and publish a time-bound plan with an assertive deadline to cut Conflict Palm Oil.

Current Palm Oil Commitment (September 2014):

Requires suppliers to go beyond the inadequate standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and end the destruction of rainforests, peatlands and abuse of human and labor rights

Applies to all branded products in all countries where products are made and sold

Expects to achieve traceability to the mill level by first quarter 2015 and to map its palm oil supply chain to individual plantations in high risk regions in 2016

Has commissioned a second-party to verify traceability to known plantations in its supply chain and conduct supplier assessments

Has a commitment to “assess which suppliers present the highest risk for engaging in deforestation and will require that these suppliers commit to implementing responsible expansion procedures to the plantation level in 2016”

Has a commitment to “Work with suppliers to [remediate violations to its policy], and, where necessary, find alternative suppliers”

Has a commitment to transparent reporting on progress annually towards full implementation of commitment and has published the names of its top four suppliers - Cargill, IOI Group, AAK and Fuji Oils

Weaknesses in Palm Oil Commitment:

No assertive deadline for eliminating Conflict Palm Oil from global operations 

No commitment to verify traceability to known plantations in low risk regions

No requirement for compliance across suppliers’ entire operations

No requirement for an immediate moratorium on the destruction of rainforests and peatlands across grower entire operations

No requirement for independent third-party verification of supplier compliance with responsible palm oil production practices, including no destruction of rainforests, peatlands or abuse of human and labor rights

No requirements for transparency from palm oil growers, refiners, and traders

No published procedures to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil suppliers

Risk assessments only assess risk of deforestation and lack social indicators needed to identify and prioritize areas of significant social conflict risks eg. human rights and labor rights violations and outstanding grievances.

No public time-bound implementation plan, with clear performance based milestones for achieving traceable, transparent and independently verified supply chains

No requirement for public transparency from palm oil growers, refiners, and traders

Current status:

Ongoing sourcing from unknown plantations and high risk regions

Company products at high risk of contamination with Conflict Palm Oil

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