posted by Gemma Tillack

PepsiCo is the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world and is a major user of Conflict Palm Oil. But it continues to fall farther and farther behind its peers by refusing to close major gaps in its commitments and adopt a truly responsible palm oil policy.

PepsiCo uses an immense amount of palm oil, enough palm oil every year to fill Pepsi cans full of it to circle the earth four times at the equator. Put another way, the tropical land base needed to feed PepsiCo’s global appetite for palm oil each year is a quarter million acres of land, most of which used to be rainforest.

PepsiCo’s customers around the planet have clearly communicated their demands for the company to take action, and its peers – including half of the Snack Food 20 companies targeted by RAN – have shown it can be done. The only thing standing in the way of PepsiCo doing the right thing and taking a leadership position on this urgent issue is the company’s refusal to act.

PepsiCo’s continued unwillingness to take responsibility for the consequences of the palm oil in its supply chain is shocking. While more and more of its peers have acknowledged the crisis created by Conflict Palm Oil production and engaged with experts like us to adopt binding policies to root out the problem, PepsiCo continues to fry its chips and fill its products with palm oil sourced from unknown plantations.

Meanwhile, deforestation is on the rise, conflicts between companies and communities are escalating and reports of child and forced labor are increasing. PepsiCo must break its ties to deforestation and human rights violations in its supply chain, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia where the risks of rainforest destruction and abuse are high.

PepsiCo’s excuse? The company thinks it has done enough. Given the scale of this crisis, this couldn’t be further from the truth. PepsiCo may feel comfortable being in the middle of the pack among its peers and not feel the need to take a leadership position on this issue, but we can’t allow it.

As a globally recognized brand with an immense international reach, we believe PepsiCo’s weak commitments and half measures are unacceptable and at odds with the company’s publicly stated values. We know that PepsiCo can step up and be a leader. Under pressure, PepsiCo made a public palm oil pledge in May of 2014, but the commitment has critical gaps that must be addressed before it meets the new global benchmark for responsible palm oil procurement.

PepsiCo must now take action to identify and eliminate suppliers who are driving these impacts on the ground. It must succeed in stopping the bulldozers and abuses in its supply chain. PepsiCo must be able to demonstrate to its customers that it can be trusted to provide products not connected to Conflict Palm Oil.

Hard fought efforts to achieve truly responsible palm oil, by breaking the link between the common foods we eat every day and the appalling practices of displacing Indigenous communities, employing child labor, destroying tiger and orangutan habitat and setting fire to carbon rich peatlands to produce palm oil, has begun to turn a corner. We are achieving major milestones every month and the biggest palm oil companies in the world are starting to move.

But the forests are still falling and we are not there yet. PepsiCo has a crucial role to play in getting us there. PepsiCo is one of the largest users of palm oil that has still refused to move and the brand’s status as a pervasive cultural icon adds that much more weight and influence to its actions. Tropical rainforests, endangered wildlife and exploited laborers need PepsiCo to start taking this issue seriously and to take immediate steps to create real change.

With your help we will hold PepsiCo to account. We will push this global snack food and beverage giant to take a leading role in driving the changes that are so desperately needed.

Rainforest Action Network and other advocacy groups including will not back down until PepsiCo tackles its Conflict Palm Oil problem. To become more involved with our campaign, check out RAN’s Palm Oil Action Team. Our Palm Oil Action team is a group of committed activists volunteers, working around the world to address Conflict Palm Oil in their communities. To learn more or join the Palm Oil Action Team, click here.