Two food giants merge into one Conflict Palm Oil culprit
San Francisco, CA - Yesterday’s merger of Kraft Foods Group, Inc. and H.J Heinz Company combine two companies, both highlighted as laggards among Rainforest Action Network’s (RAN) Snack Food 20 group, noted for their failure to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from their supply chains and brand products.
Promoted by financier Warren Buffett as good news for shareholder value, the merger creates the world’s 5th largest food and beverage company, with a projected annual revenue of $28 billion and a massive environmental footprint. Both food companies have been profiled by RAN as being at high risk of sourcing Conflict Palm Oil, but have yet to adopt and implement the policies and practices needed to cut deforestation, climate pollution and human rights abuses from their palm oil supply chains.
Rainforest Action Network’s Agribusiness Campaign Director, Gemma Tillack, said, "This $40 billion merger focuses on growing profits, but these are too often at the expense of chopped down rainforests and human and labor rights violations, which are driven by the snack food industry’s use of Conflict Palm Oil. A food company of this scale has a massive global footprint, and needs to be accountable for the social and environmental impacts in its supply chains.
“Rainforest Action Network calls on the new Kraft Heinz Company to adopt and implement a robust responsible palm oil procurement policy and clean up its supply chains as its first order of business.”
For more info: The full report titled ‘Conflict Palm Oil: How US Snack Food Brands are Contributing to Orangutan Extinction, Climate Change and Human Rights Violations’ can be downloaded here: http://ran.org/conflict-palm-oil
We launched a campaign to turn up the heat on Pepsico and its use of Conflict Palm Oil. The goal has been to takeover its darkly ironic #LiveForNow advertising campaign that encourages consumption while ignoring human rights abuses, land grabs, and deforestation. Supporters like you have been doing just that by tweeting pictures from events and anywhere they spot the logo of Pepsico’s flagship brand Pepsi, calling out the truth.
Our “#LiveForNow Shouldn’t Mean Destroying Tomorrow” site is built for people like you to use to crank up the pressure on PepsiCo. Pictures coming in from people across the US and the globe will make it clear to PepsiCo that our movement is building and we won’t stop until it ends its use of Conflict Palm Oil.
Remember, take a selfie with a Pepsi sign and tweet it out with the hashtag #LiveForNow and we’ll feature you on the site too!
We know your pressure is working. PepsiCo is one of the 5 laggards companies we called out in April who have refused to take effective steps to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil, but other companies are moving. This week, palm oil laggard Conagra Foods announced a new commitment to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil. Together we can push PepsiCo to do the right thing and fix the weaknesses in its Palm Oil Commitment. So keep up the pressure! Start now by sharing our spoof site with your friends and family on Twitter and Facebook.
PepsiCo is the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world. But the company has yet to take steps to address its Conflict Palm Oil problem and break the link between the products you buy and rainforest destruction. So hundreds of people in dozens of cities around the world will join next Tuesday’s Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil and demand change from PepsiCo. But other snack food companies are also refusing to deal with their Conflict Palm Oil problem and they are starting to get the individual attention they deserve.
This week hundreds of people used MoveOn.org’s community petition site to demand PepsiCo, ConAgra Foods, H.J. Heinz Company, Campbell Soup Company, and Kraft Foods protect rainforests by cutting Conflict Palm Oil. And they are taking to social media to spread the word. Check out some of their tweets and call out the Conflict Palm Oil laggards yourself by clicking on the links.
This week marks an exciting turning point in the ambitious international effort to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil connected to rainforest destruction, human rights abuses and climate pollution from our food supply. Thanks to the hard work and consumer pressure created by RAN supporters and our allies - that’s you, dear reader - the palm oil industry as a whole is finally on the move. Several of the “Snack Food 20” companies that RAN put on notice a year ago about their Conflict Palm Oil problem, including Mars, Kellogg, and General Mills have recently responded by strengthening their palm oil commitments, policies and sourcing practices.
This is huge.
But PepsiCo - the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world and the most influential of the Snack Food 20 companies yet to take action to address its Conflict Palm Oil problem – remains a major laggard falling further and further behind its peers.
PepsiCo is a global consumer of Conflict Palm Oil for its snack food brands in the US, Mexico, Latin America, Asia and Europe, yet it still has no truly responsible palm oil purchasing policy. This means while PepsiCo consumes more than 450,000 metric tons of palm oil annually, the company cannot ensure its customers that its products do not contain Conflict Palm Oil. Which is why today, PepsiCo is being singled out for its continued use of large quantities of Conflict Palm Oil by a wide range of groups that includes Showtime’s Years of Living Dangerously project, Rainforest Action Network, the global consumer watchdog group SumOfUs.org and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
RAN’s very own Lafcadio Cortesi appears in the premiere episode of Showtime’s dramatic new climate series, where he walks Harrison Ford down the aisle of an American grocery store and explains how Conflict Palm Oil is destroying Indonesia’s forests and peatlands while displacing Indigenous communities. At the end of the second episode of this star studded show, viewers are directed to the Years of Living Dangerously website where PepsiCo is targeted for its outsized role contributing to deforestation. Showtime viewers are invited to call out PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi to publicly respond to the question: “Deforestation from palm oil is a leading driver of climate change. How can you ensure your customers that your supply chains do not contribute to this ongoing problem?” With this kind of exposure, now is the time for us to raise our voices together and make sure that PepsiCo hears from every one of us.
The global palm oil industry is fast approaching a tipping point and PepsiCo’s global scale and influence gives it a crucial role to play in finally eliminating Conflict Palm Oil from our food supply. We've got PepsiCo’s attention, and we know the company is feeling the heat. Now it is crucial that we increase the pressure to push PepsiCo over the edge to take a stand for the climate, orangutans, the rainforest, and the families who live and work there.
Thank you for your vital support - we cannot win this important, high stakes fight without you.
Key PepsiCo Facts and Statistics:
Annually, PepsiCo uses enough palm oil to fill Pepsi cans that would reach around the earth 4 times.
Annual Revenue: $65.5 billion in 2012 (50% from international)
Chairman and CEO: Indra K. Nooyi
Countries of Operation: PepsiCo is the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world. Sold in over 200 countries; Americas, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Africa
Biggest use of palm oil: Mexico, 40% of PepsiCo’s palm oil use
Total Global Annual Palm Oil Usage (2013): 457,200 metric tons
Known Palm Oil Suppliers: PepsiCo sources palm oil products originating in SE Asia from Cargill, Wilmar, and AarhusKarlshamn (AAK) and originating from plantations in southeast Mexico (Chiapas, Tabasco, Veracruz) and Guatemala from Oleofinos of Mexico.
Regions of Impact: The top 3 countries where PepsiCo sources its palm oil from are Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico.
Best Known PepsiCo Brands using palm oil globally: Frito-Lay including Lay’s and Cheetos, Chitato, Qtela and Gamesa.
Best Known PepsiCo products in the US using palm oil: Quakers Big Chewy Granola Bar, Quaker Oats Granola Bites, Quaker Oats Banana Nut Bread, Frito Lay Munchies Flaming Hot, Frito Lays Grandma’s Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies. Facts got you ticked off? Make sure you take action here.
Thanks to your hard work and consumer pressure, the palm oil industry is on the move. Several of the Snack Food 20 companies we are targeting have already committed to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from their supply chain, or are in the process of doing so. But 5 of the biggest players are still dragging their feet. While they do, the forests of Indonesia and Malaysia continue to burn. We've got their attention, and we know that Pepsi, Kraft, Campbell's, Heinz and ConAgra are feeling the heat. But so far, they have all refused to act.
Now is the time to increase the pressure and push these companies to take a stand for orangutans, the rainforest, and the families who live and work there. That’s why we’re organizing a Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil on May 20. Add your name here and say you’re in!
We are very close to the tipping point. Working together, we have the power to transform our broken food system, force the palm oil industry to respect the rights of workers and forest communities, and protect the rainforest homes of the last wild orangutans. Click here to tell us you’re in, and a RAN staffer or volunteer will be in touch in the coming weeks about taking action!
This article originally appeared on onegreenplanet.org.
Now that we’ve added trans fats to the list of ingredients to look for—and avoid—on supermarket labels, and the FDA is poised to ban them from the food supply altogether, we’re good, right? Not so fast, warns Dr. Andrew Weil, America’s leading expert in integrative medicine. Conflict Palm Oil is often used to replace those artery-clogging trans fats. Because palm oil is solid at room temperature, it makes a good substitute. But is it actually healthy?
According to Dr. Weil, “Fresh palm fruit oil, sometimes called ‘red palm oil,’ is a nutritious and beneficial oil. However, it’s important not to confuse this raw oil with palm kernel oil, or the highly processed versions of crude palm oil that are commonly used as ingredients in the industrially produced packaged foods found in most Americans’ diets. These types of palm oil are unhealthy for the human body. And their irresponsible cultivation in tropical areas is unhealthy for the planet.”
Dr. Weil joins a chorus of voices expressing concern that, when it comes to replacing trans fats, we may be jumping out of the frying pan and into the deep fryer. The World Health Organization; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service all recommend against consuming palm oil and other tropical oils because of their high content of artery-clogging saturated fats.
Beyond the health issue, environmentalists and human rights activists are concerned that the FDA ban on trans fats will lead to a repeat of the mistakes companies made ten years ago when the FDA mandated the labeling of trans fats. That mandate led to a 500 percent increase in demand for Conflict Palm Oil, which is produced in ways that cause large-scale rainforest destruction and human rights abuses. In fact, palm oil can now be found in roughly half the packaged food products sold in grocery stores. It is added to teething biscuits, baby formula, granola bars, peanut butter, crackers, you name it. When we feed our kids food that comes out of a bag, a box, or a package of any kind, chances are they’re eating palm oil.
As a mom, I’m pleased to see the FDA taking steps to eliminate an ingredient from our food supply that is unhealthy for my family. But as a palm oil campaigner for Rainforest Action Network (RAN), I know that replacing trans fats with Conflict Palm Oil won’t do much for people’s health and will cause dire consequences for the planet. In fact, not one of the nation’s top 20 snack food manufacturers can ensure that their products do not contain Conflict Palm Oil.
I know that my baby boy would never forgive me if I told him that the hidden ingredient in his teething biscuits were the reason he’d never be able to see an orangutan in the wild. That’s why I’m so passionate about RAN’s Conflict Palm Oil campaign to pressure the Snack Food 20* group of companies to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from their products. And I’m pleased to report that it is working. A few months ago, palm oil mega-giant Wilmar International—which controls 45 percent of the global trade in palm oil—adopted a conflict-free palm oil policy. On Valentine’s day, Kellogg released a strengthened palm oil purchasing commitment, joining industry peers Nestle, Unilever, and Ferrero. But we’re still waiting for several other kids’ snack makers to step up to the plate, including Kraft, PepsiCo, Heinz, Campbell Soup, ConAgra Food, and Cargill.
So, what can you do to make a difference?
1) Keep reading labels. Palm Oil goes by many names, including Palm Kernel Oil, Palmitate, and Glyceryl Stearate. You’ll be amazed how ubiquitous it is, once you learn to recognize its many names.
2) Read RAN’s Conflict Palm Oil report. It outlines the health, human, and environmental impacts of this destructive product and lays out exactly what we are asking shoppers and companies to do to eliminate it.
3) Take action online. Tell the Snack Food 20: Don’t replace trans fats with Conflict Palm Oil. Thanks to the support of RAN activists and allies, we are making progress and gaining traction. But we’ll need to keep pushing to reach the tipping point. I am convinced that you all can provide the additional momentum we’ll need to remove Conflict Palm Oil from our food supply.
*The “Snack Food 20″ group of companies are Campbell Soup Company; ConAgra Foods, Inc.; Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc.; General Mills, Inc.; Grupo Bimbo; Hillshire Brands Company; H.J. Heinz Company; Hormel Foods Corporation; Kellogg Company; Kraft Food Group, Inc.; Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Corp.; Mars Inc.; Mondelez International, Inc.; Nestle. S.A.; Nissin Foods Holdings Co., Ltd.; PepsiCo, Inc.; The Hershey Company; The J.M. Smucker Company; Toyo Suisan Kaisha, Ltd.; and Unilever.
- We met hundreds of incredible activists who came with us to deliver our message, hosted house parties, took #InYourPalm petition photos with us, and came to our events. Thank you so very much! Your passion inspired us to keep going every day.
- Dozens of activists in orangutan masks joined us at the Chicago Board of Trade to kick off the campaign RAN style with a huge banner reading “Snack Food 20: Cut Conflict Palm Oil, not Rainforests”
- We were invited to Power Shift, where we were honored to speak to the five thousand students and youth climate activists from the main stage, showing our video and compelling this wonderful group to take action.
- HUNDREDS of you took action on the Facebook pages of the Snack Food 20, making sure that the demands of our visits to their headquarters were echoed loudly and clearly.
For the last several months, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has teamed up with the creative geniuses at Free Range Studios to make this poignant two-minute film about the impacts of "Conflict Palm Oil" on orangutans—as seen through the eyes of a little girl communicating to an orphaned orangutan through sign language.
RAN is doubling down on its campaign to protect the last wild orangutans and their rainforest homes from Conflict Palm Oil and we need lots of help to do it. Just last month, we launched our newest national campaign, The Last Stand of the Orangutan, targeting 20 of the top snack food companies using Conflict Palm Oil in their products. We’ve dubbed them The Snack Food 20, and they are companies like Pepsi, Heinz, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smucker's—companies that control some of America’s most well-known household brands.
Now we need your help: Can you share this video far and wide so it can be as effective a tool as possible for jumpstarting a national conversation about the extreme consequences hidden behind some of the common food products many of us take for granted every day?
Palm oil is found in roughly half the products sold in grocery stores, and its production on vast industrial plantations is now one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction worldwide. Palm oil is the single biggest threat driving orangutans toward extinction, and is also responsible for widespread human rights violations including displacement of Indigenous Peoples, land conflicts with forest-dependent communities, and forced and child labor.
On top of that, deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, where nearly all palm oil is grown, is responsible for more carbon pollution into earth's atmosphere each year than all the cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships in the United States combined. In fact, due to deforestation, Indonesia has the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emissions behind only China and the United States.
But we can do something about it!
From moving Disney to stop sourcing paper from endangered rainforests to getting Burger King to stop using cattle grazed in the Amazon, RAN has learned well that an effective way to pressure and inspire companies to change is by nationalizing controversy over an issue and making sure the company knows that association with that issue is risky for its reputation and bottom line.
This video is designed to speak to the customers that the Snack Food 20 care so much about—us—and to help catapult Conflict Palm Oil into the national consciousness in a way that The Snack Food 20 can’t ignore.
The Snack Food 20 spend millions every year to instill brand loyalty and trust in their customers. They really do care what we think. It is crucial that these companies hear from you right now: Tell the Snack Food 20 that you will not stand for Conflict Palm Oil in your food. Together we can convince these brands to take action and change the destructive way Conflict Palm Oil is currently grown.
Rainforest Action Network's goal is to collect 60,600 #InYourPalm photo petitions—that's one person standing for each orangutan remaining in the wild—to be delivered to each of the Snack Food 20 companies.
RAN is demanding that each of these companies implement policies to ensure they only buy truly responsible palm oil that can be traced back to its source and is not driving deforestation, expansion onto carbon-rich peatlands or human and labor rights violations.
Orangutans are among our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. They are amazingly like us in how they learn, play, and care for their young. But unlike us, if their homes are destroyed they cannot move on. We believe the power to save these incredible orangutans is in your palm.
Please share this short film with your friends and family today and ask them to do the same!