Global Day of Action Targets Conflict Palm Oil; Activists Say PepsiCo’s New Commitment ‘Falls Short’

Hundreds of events across the world call on PepsiCo and others to break ties to deforestation, human rights abuses and climate pollution

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For Chicago Sweets and Snacks Expo banner, see here.

For San Francisco and other global images, see here. (TYPE: “ranguest” for access)

CONTACT: Laurel Sutherlin, 415.246.0161

Chicago, IL – Furthering a trend of growing public outcry against the use of palm oil connected to rainforest destruction and human rights violations, thousands of people today participated in over one hundred colorful, coordinated demonstrations around the world. People gathered on college campuses, beaches, public squares and multiple PepsiCo factories to send a common message: “PepsiCo, the Power is #InYourPalm to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil.”

“The level of enthusiasm to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil by people all across the world has just skyrocketed,” said Rainforest Action Network forest campaigner Gemma Tillack. “From the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia to cities across Australia, the U.S. and the UK, to the beaches of San Francisco and Brazil, students, families and ordinary people have organized themselves in droves today to send a clear and united message to PepsiCo and its peers: the time to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from your products is now.”

In Chicago, fifteen activists with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) unfurled a massive, 60 foot banner inside the concourse of McCormack Place – the largest convention center in North America – during the opening of the annual Sweets and Snacks Expo, that read, “Sweets, Snacks and Slavery: Cut Conflict Palm Oil.” In Sumatra, orangutan advocates participated by using chainsaws to cut down illegally planted oil palms within the endangered Leuser National Park.

In San Francisco, dozens of people are gathering today beneath the Golden Gate Bridge for the creation of a human banner that will read “#InYourPalm.” In dozens of other cities and towns across the U.S. and the world, concerned citizens are undertaking their own creative actions and will send images of them to PepsiCo demanding that the company break the link between its products and rainforest destruction and human rights violations.

The popularity of today’s day of action underscores how palm oil has emerged as a flash button issue of global concern. Recent high profile comments addressing the destructive impacts of palm oil production include remarks by President Obama speaking in Malaysia, a Sunday editorial by the New York Times and feature coverage of the issue on Showtime’s groundbreaking new climate series Years of Living Dangerously.

PepsiCo is one of the “Snack Food 20” group of companies targeted by Rainforest Action Network’s year old Conflict Palm Oil campaign. PepsiCo consumes more than 450,000 metric tons of palm oil annually for its snack food brands including in the US, Mexico, Latin America, Asia and Europe, and its consumption is on the rise.

Several of the major Snack Food 20 companies, including Mars, Kellogg, General Mills, Unilever and Nestle have recently responded to consumer outrage by announcing new commitments and strengthening their palm oil purchasing policies or sourcing practices.

PepsiCo, however, the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world, still has no truly responsible palm oil purchasing policy, though the company did just issue a strengthened palm oil commitment on May 17th. Palm Oil campaigning organizations including RAN, Greenpeace, the Union of Concerned Scientists and say that PepsiCo’s new commitment does not go far enough.  

“While it is encouraging that PepsiCo has acknowledged it has a problem with Conflict Palm Oil, the company’s recent commitments fall short in several key areas,” said Gemma Tillack of Rainforest Action Network. “For PepsiCo to meet consumer expectations, it must adopt a binding, time bound policy with an action plan to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products that includes full traceability of palm oil back to its source and verifiable safeguards for human rights, forests and peatlands.”

For more information, see the report: Conflict Palm Oil: How U.S. Snack Food Brands are Contributing to Orangutan Extinction, Climate Change and Human Rights Violations.

See statement from Union of Concerned Scientists here.