RAN Exposes PepsiCo’s Conflict Palm Oil Problem at ExpoWest

By Rainforest Action Network

As PepsiCo attempted to brand its products as “healthy” and “sustainable” at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim this past weekend, RAN was there to expose the truth: human and workers’ rights violations, species extinction and rainforest destruction are not healthy for people or the planet.


RAN’s J Chavez, Shannen Casey and Kelsey Baker set up a table at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim.

PepsiCo is the parent company to several brands, including Stacy’s Pita Chips and Naked Juice, which were both represented at this year’s Expo West. PepsiCo is trying to capitalize on the growing natural and sustainable food industry, but to keep profits high, PepsiCo sources hundreds of thousands of tons of palm oil every year––palm oil that is made cheaply, with exploited labor and forest destruction.


A forest in Indonesia burns as a result of Conflict Palm Oil production.

This is the third time RAN has attended Expo West, and we were prepared to call out PepsiCo for its refusal to take meaningful action to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products. Both Stacy’s Pita Chips and Naked Juice knew we were there from the get-go, and were not too pleased that we were educating others about PepsiCo’s problem with Conflict Palm Oil.

With nearly 3,000 exhibitors and 77,000 attendees at Expo West, we had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of people and companies in the natural products industry about truly responsible palm oil, that has been produced legally and from known sources without contributing to deforestation, species extinction, high greenhouse gas emissions or human and labor rights violations.


RAN’s Kelsey talks with Stacy’s Pita Chips, owned by PepsiCo, about the Conflict Palm Oil in its supply chain.

PepsiCo currently relies on the inadequate standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to certify its palm oil. The RSPO certifies palm oil companies that clear important secondary forests and destroy carbon rich peatlands. The RSPO also has a dismal track record of successfully resolving conflicts between plantation companies and local communities and workers. PepsiCo must adopt a global responsible palm oil procurement policy that goes beyond the gaps and weaknesses of the inadequate RSPO standards and eliminates the destruction of forests, peatlands and human rights abuses from its entire supply chain.

It is operationally and economically feasible to procure palm oil without social conflict and environmental destruction in its supply chain. In fact, RAN, in partnership with allies, has developed an initiative with stronger safeguards than the RSPO––the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG)––that has the potential to transform the palm oil sector. (Learn more about responsible palm oil in this press release.)

Not only is Conflict Palm Oil harmful for the planet, workers and forests, but it is also unhealthy for our bodies. The palm oil found in PepsiCo snack foods is heavily refined with bleaching and not good for our health. In 2014, Dr. Weil joined a chorus of leading health experts in warning Americans about the dangers of eating refined palm oil. Furthermore, a 2009 study by the federal Agricultural Research Service found that palm oil isn’t a good substitute for trans fats because consuming either type of fat results in similar spikes in artery-clogging LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and a protein (apolipoprotein B) that distributes it throughout the bloodstream. PepsiCo and its products that contain Conflict Palm Oil have no place in the natural foods industry.

During the Expo, we collected hundreds of signatures from people and companies in the natural foods industry, asking PepsiCo to cut Conflict Palm Oil from its supply chain. We also had support remotely from people on social media, who were Tweeting to PepsiCo, Stacy’s Pita Chips and Naked Juice asking for snack foods without deforestation, human rights violation and species extinction. At the end of the weekend, we delivered the huge stack of petitions to Stacy’s and Naked representatives.


Kelsey and Shannen deliver hundreds of petitions from people in the natural food industry calling on PepsiCo to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its supply chain

There was a resounding agreement among petition signers that for our forests and our collective future, we can’t and won’t let PepsiCo destroy rainforests for snack foods. It can no longer turn a blind eye to the deforestation and human rights abuses from its supply chain. PepsiCo is in a unique position to be a leader within the snack food industry and take a stand for climate, orangutans, the rainforest, and the families who live and work there.

Join us in calling on PepsiCo to step up and adopt a globally responsible palm oil procurement policy. Add your name to RAN’s open letter to PepsiCo CEO Ms. Indra Nooyi asking her to lead her company on a new path––one that will tackle the impact of the Conflict Palm Oil in its global supply chain.