This article titled “Kellogg’s to buy only sustainably sourced palm oil” was written by John Vidal, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 19th February 2014 15.15 UTC
The food giant Kellogg’s has caved in to public pressure and agreed to buy palm oil only from suppliers who can prove that they actively protect rainforests and peatlands and respect human rights.
The move, which follows intense pressure from consumer groups around the world, is expected to improve the survival chances of highly endangered animals like the Sumatran tiger and the orangutan in southeast Asia, as well as provide some protection for indigenous peoples in Indonesia, Malaysia, New Guinea, Latin America and west Africa who depend on tropical rainforests for a living.
At least 30,000 square miles of tropical forest has been cut down in the past 20 years to supply the burgeoning global food industry with cheap palm oil to make packaged foods, ice cream and snacks. The deforestation has led to illegal land grabs, forest fires and social conflict in communities which depend on forest resources for their livelihoods. The heavy loss of peatlands has also contributed significantly to the increase in climate change emissions.
In a statement, Kellogg’s said that it will require its suppliers to “protect forests, endangered species habitat, lands with high carbon content, and peatland of any depth. Suppliers will also be required to protect human and community rights.”
“While palm oil is a very small percentage of our total ingredients, as a socially responsible company, concerns about the sustainable production of palm oil are clearly on our radar screen,” said chief sustainability officer Celeste Clark.
The company, whose brands include Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Special K and Pringles is thought to use about 50,000 tonnes of palm oil a year, said that it planned to impose the changes by December 2015. It has sales of $14bn (£8bn) annually, manufactures in 35 countries and sells food in over 180 countries.
“This is clearly a step in the right direction. Now it needs to be implemented. This will limit the damage that has already been done but it shows that the palm oil industry is in transformation. Now it needs other major US and European companies to follow,” said Pat Venditti, deputy forest campaign director at Greenpeace.
The Kellogg’s move, said Venditti, is expected to raise standards and increase pressure on other food giants and their suppliers to follow suit.
It also represents a major success for environment and consumer groups who have challenged the industry’s longstanding assurances that palm oil cultivation in Asia was “sustainable” and which has hidden behind easily-obtained green “certificates” which have not stopped the forest destruction even in national parks and on fragile peatlands.
Kellogg’s follows a string of food companies and their suppliers who have committed themselves to raising standards. It acted following reports last year that it had been using illegally-grown palm oil from Indonesia sourced from its supply partner Wilmar International, which controls over a third of the global palm oil trade. In December 2013 Wilmar committed to ban its suppliers from destroying forests and peatlands.
Image: An excavator clears a forest for palm oil plantation in west Kalimantan on Borneo island, southeast Asia. Photograph: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images
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