BIG Palm Oil Players On The Move

By Rainforest Action Network

Some of the best moments in life are the ones when you realize you are part of something BIG. Now is one of those times.

With your support, RAN and our allies have made Conflict Palm Oil a front-burner issue for some of the world’s largest corporations—and there are clear signals that these companies are finally being forced to accept that business as usual is no longer tenable.

Just a few months ago, palm oil mega-giant Wilmar International adopted a potentially game-changing ‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation’ policy. This move has the potential to make a real difference because Wilmar controls 45% of global trade in palm oil and is now requiring all of its suppliers to meet this new benchmark for responsible palm oil production and trade.

Of course, to achieve real change in the forests and communities where it matters most, Wilmar must now put this policy into action. This means immediately eliminating suppliers who continue to destroy rainforests, drain carbon-rich peatlands or violate human and labor rights.

Since RAN began its Conflict Palm Oil campaign less than a year ago, a growing list of global food giants have released palm oil sourcing commitments that go beyond the insufficient standards of  “sustainable” palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Just last Friday, the 14th of February, Kellogg bowed to years of campaign pressure from RAN and our allies and joined industry leaders Nestle, Unilever and Ferrero by releasing a strengthened palm oil purchasing commitment.

This ambitious campaign is working and we have momentum on our side! The CEO of one of the world’s major palm oil companies told me in a meeting just last week that we had selected the right targets, that our pressure was making an impact and that our message is making its way all the way to the top. What is needed now is to build a critical mass of major food companies demanding responsible palm oil from their suppliers. Cargill, the biggest importer of palm oil into the US, is a critical lynchpin for truly transforming the whole system, and as of yet it has still not adopted a policy inline with the new benchmark set by Wilmar. This needs to change ASAP.

Thanks to you, clear leaders are emerging in the food sector and a number of other Snack Food 20 companies are on the move. Right now, RAN is working with Mars and Mondelez (formerly Kraft) to develop strengthened palm oil policies. Hormel Foods and Hershey’s responded by releasing new palm oil commitments recently. Unfortunately, Hershey’s commitment fails to require its suppliers to eliminate human rights abuses and forced and child labor. Hershey’s needs to fix this ASAP.

For the rest of the Snack Food 20 companies, they are falling behind. But with your help, this won’t be the case for long. Together, we’ll convince the remaining Snack Food 20 companies to adopt palm oil policies that would eliminate the destruction of rainforests, carbon-rich peatlands AND human and labor rights violations from their supply chains.

Many of these big food companies have taken steps in the right direction, but none have yet fully eliminated Conflict Palm Oil from their products. They are at the beginning of a long and complex process towards achieving truly responsible palm oil production in their supply chains, not the end. Changed outcomes on the ground are the true measure of our success. We need to keep the pressure on these corporations to put their words into real action.

Things are starting to move. Now we need to ramp up the pressure on corporations like Cargill, IOI, KLK, PepsiCo, Kraft, Campbell Soup, Heinz and ConAgra Food, so we can achieve critical mass and deliver real structural change in the palm oil sector.

Given the complexity of international palm oil supply chains, it can be hard to visualize the scale of the change we are trying to make and the progress we’ve made so far. It might help to think of it like this.

We are trying to move a gigantic granite boulder and we need to use all of our collective force so we can create the momentum to reach the tipping points that will send the boulder rolling. Right now we’re pushing hard and it’s delivering results, but we need a whole lot more people and big players to join us to get it rolling and keep it rolling!

So we’ve developed a plan, we’ve put the plan into action, and we’re making progress—but we’re not at the tipping point yet.

There is a lot of corporate resistance to the change we are trying to deliver.

That is why we need you!

There is no doubt our movement is building. Over 4500 of you have signed up to join our Palm Oil Action Team and over 120,000 people have taken action to drive the changes that are so desperately needed.

Please join us and invite your friends and family to do the same as we take on these brands and win.

The future of some of the world’s last rainforests, orangutans, our climate and the lives of millions of people who rely on these forests for their survival are depending on us.