But the demand for palm oil comes at a high price. Palm oil production is responsible for terrible human rights violations as corporations often forcefully remove Indigenous Peoples and rural communities from their lands in order to expand their palm oil plantations. Tragically, child labor, modern day slavery and other serious labor abuses occur on plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, where most of the world’s palm oil is grown.
Conflict Palm Oil production is also one of the world’s leading causes of rainforest destruction. Plantation expansion is pushing deep into the heart of some of the world’s most culturally and biologically diverse ecosystems. Irreplaceable wildlife species like the Sumatran Rhino, Sumatran Elephant and the Sumatran and Bornean Orangutan are being driven to the brink of extinction.
Conflict Palm Oil is not only a local problem to Indonesia or Malaysia. The clearing of rainforests and the draining and burning of carbon-rich peatlands for new plantations is releasing globally significant amounts of carbon pollution, making Conflict Palm Oil a major driver of human-induced climate change.
Is this really the price we should have to pay for our snack food? We must stop Conflict Palm Oil in its tracks. That’s why Rainforest Action Network is fighting back, putting pressure on twenty of the most well known food companies in the world—the Snack Food 20—to get Conflict Palm Oil off the shelves right now.
Rainforest Action Network launched our palm oil campaign with a goal to fundamentally change the way palm oil is produced. United as customers and citizens, we’re telling brands that vibrant forests, healthy communities and a stable climate are worth more than a company’s bottom line. We are demanding that these companies commit to using only responsible palm oil produced without causing the destruction of rainforests, carbon rich peatlands or the abuse of human rights.
The crisis caused by Conflict Palm Oil is urgent and the stakes are high. Luckily there is something you can do about it.
Snack Food 20
Many of the biggest companies in the palm oil industry have announced globally responsible palm oil commitments and have pledged to eliminate forest and peatland destruction and human and labor rights abuses from their supply chains. Now we must hold them to account.
Since 2013, RAN has been working with allies from around the world to expose the corporate supply chains that link Conflict Palm Oil to products on our grocery store shelves, focusing on a group of large corporate palm oil end-users we call the Snack Food 20. Together, these 20 major global snack food companies have the power to transform the way their suppliers produce palm oil, if they each adopt and implement strong commitments to protect forests, the climate and human rights.
Some Snack Food 20 companies have forged ahead by pledging to eliminate deforestation and exploitation from their supply chain while other companies continue to lag behind.
However, a company’s policy needs to be worth more than the paper it’s printed on. We must hold the Snack Food 20 accountable to making and keeping their promises where it matters most — on the forest floor.
PepsiCo is one of the largest snack food companies in the world and, for years, it refused to take full responsibility for one of the most controversial ingredients in its products—Conflict Palm Oil. But all that’s changed.
In February 2020, after years of tough campaigning by RAN and our partners, PepsiCo announced a strengthened policy and actions that took it from being one of the biggest snack food laggards to a front-runner in the sector, showing that even massive brands can begin doing what is necessary to be a responsible palm oil player.
Palm Oil Labor
Exploited workers and rainforest destruction: it’s a package deal for Conflict Palm Oil.
Let’s make no mistake: Conflict Palm Oil is an exploitative, extractive industry, and one that seeks to squeeze the most profit out of the process as possible. This means inadequate environmental safeguards, and this also means exploited workers. After the rainforests fall, rows and rows of palm oil trees take their place, and generations of palm oil workers are left to face ongoing devastation. There are an estimated 3.5 million workers on palm oil plantations, suffering under the extractive industry of Conflict Palm Oil.
Conflict Palm Oil laggards are turning a blind eye to the problem as they continue to source palm oil from companies who abuse workers on their palm oil plantations, cheating them out of fair pay and benefits, exposing them to toxic chemicals, forcing them to bring their children and spouses to work and even sometimes trafficking and enslaving these workers. All for cheap Conflict Palm Oil.