RAN lauds ‘Step in the Right Direction’ but says noodle giant’s decade long delay in eliminating Conflict Palm Oil from instant noodles is unacceptable
SAN FRANCISCO and TOKYO – In the face of growing international criticism over its use of controversial Conflict Palm Oil, Nissin Foods Holdings––the Japanese food manufacturing giant which invented and manufactures instant noodles such as the famous CupNoodle––has revised its palm oil procurement policy. The new commitment takes steps to prohibit deforestation, forest fires, development on carbon-rich peatlands, and violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples including their land rights. This policy revision addresses a gap as Nissin Foods has been lagging behind its peers that have already aligned their policies with the global “No Deforestation, No Peatland and No Exploitation” benchmarks for responsible palm oil production in 2013. But, RAN warns consumers that Nissin Foods policy falls short of expectations as it sets a delayed deadline of 2030 for achieving its full implementation.
Rainforest Action Network’s Japan representative Dr. Toyo Kawakami issued the following statement:
“Nissin Foods has taken a step in the right direction. What matters now for communities and forests on the frontlines of palm oil expansion is that the company immediately puts its policy into action.
“The fact is that Nissin Foods remains at risk of driving the destruction of rainforests across Indonesia, including the global biodiversity hotspot Leuser Ecosystem. As a matter of urgency, it must disclose its full list of palm oil suppliers and demonstrate enforcement of its new policy, including immediate efforts to address its role in the destruction of the rainforests that are the last refuge for endangered Sumatran orangutans, elephants, rhinos and tigers.
“As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic worsens across Indonesia, deforestation, forest fires and human rights violations continue to climb in the palm oil supply chain of global brands like Nissin Foods. A target of policy implementation by 2030 is simply unacceptable considering the scale and urgency of the health, climate, and biodiversity crisis, and the growing violence against communities defending their lands.
“We appeal to Nissin Foods to develop and publish a binding, time-bound implementation plan that details the actions it will take to ensure its products are free of Conflict Palm Oil immediately, not in 2030. A new system is needed to monitor and independently verify its suppliers’ adherence to its policy, as its current approach of sourcing so-called sustainable RSPO “Mass balance” palm oil––a mix of certified and untraceable controversial palm oil–– is not addressing its connection to deforestation or human rights violations and the RSPO’s assurance systems can not yet be trusted.”
In addition to the publication of a revised policy, Nissin Foods responded to concerns expressed by consumers in Japan and abroad on its sourcing from 3 controversial mills being supplied by palm oil companies responsible for the destruction of rainforests and peatland that are the last refuge for endangered Sumatran orangutan, elephants, rhinos and tigers in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem. Its response failed to confirm if it was sourcing from the 3 controversial mills, instead, it presented a table of corrective actions taken by an anonymized list of suppliers to address sourcing of Conflict Palm Oil grown at the expense of the Leuser Ecosystem, including from illegal plantations. Nissin Foods’ reference to the need for corrective actions demonstrates that the concerns raised by RAN’s were, and remain, warranted.
As the year 2020 draws to a close, Nissin Foods has caught up to other global brand companies in the Consumer Goods Forums (CGF) by publishing a ‘No Deforestation, No Peatland and No Exploitation” commitment for its palm oil supply chain. It now stands at the starting line of the race to achieve policy implementation. The self-imposed deadline of ending deforestation for palm oil, pulp and paper, soy, and beef by 2020 looks like it will be missed by Nissin Foods and all its peers in the CGF. Accelerated action is needed to protect forests and respect the rights of frontline communities, and Nissin Food has a central role to play to drive to action in Japan, and across its forest-risk commodity global supply chains.
Tens of thousands of consumers across Japan, the US, and the globe have signed petitions and raised their concerns through Nissin Food’s customer service website. Consumer pressure will continue to call on Nissin Foods to take immediate action to keep forest standing and respect the rights of communities and workers impacted by its global consumption of forest-risk commodities.
The 2020 full report titled ‘Keep Forests Standing: Exposing brands and banks driving deforestation. can be downloaded here: https://www.ran.org/the-understory/keep-forests-standing/
The 2013 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
Rainforest Action Network investigations showing evidence of Nissin Food’s potential sourcing from 3 controversial mills connected to the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem can be downloaded here: https://www.ran.org/leuser-watch/the-last-of-the-leuser-lowlands/