Thu, Jan 23, 2020 - Page 9 News List

Biggest food brands failing to halt palm oil deforestation: reports

The commitments that companies made a decade ago to phase out deforestation in their supply chains by this year are out of reach for many, two NGOs said

By Fiona Harvey  /  The Guardian

Some of the world’s biggest brands are failing in their commitments to banish deforestation from their supply chains through their use of palm oil, despite making public claims to environmental sustainability, according to two reports.

Scores of the world’s biggest consumer brands have agreed to phase out deforestation through the use of sustainable palm oil by this year, but this goal looks far out of reach for many, according to separate reports from two campaigning non-governmental organizations (NGOs), WWF and Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

Many of the companies highlighted as performing poorly or missing targets are household names, including Kellogg’s, Mondelez and General Mills, whose brands include Yoplait and Haagen-Dazs.

In the UK, major brands such as Greggs, Warburtons, Reckitt Benckiser and Associated British Foods also ranked relatively low in the table.

In its annual scorecard report on major companies’ performance in reducing deforestation from their use of palm oil, WWF found that only 15 out of 173 companies surveyed were performing well and “leading the way.”

Thirty companies were judged to be lagging behind, while 41 failed to respond.

The WWF survey awarded companies points out of 22 based on answers to a questionnaire on their practices in sourcing palm oil.

Ferrero, the Italian chocolate maker, was the only company to exceed 20 points.

The UK retailers Marks & Spencer and the Co-operative Group also scored highly, with 18.75 and 18 points respectively.

“Consumers don’t want their food or other purchases to come with a side order of deforestation and destruction of wildlife, but after a decade of promises, too many companies have failed to deliver. [They] must prove to their customers that they’re not selling products involved in destroying nature, and that they’re fully committed to a world where unsustainable palm oil no longer exists,” said Emma Keller, a palm oil expert at WWF-UK.

Palm oil is found in a wide range of foods, and some cosmetics and household goods, but its production is often problematic.

The race to satisfy growing demand over the past two decades has resulted in vast plantations replacing native forest in countries in Southeast Asia, while efforts to prevent forest destruction have often been stymied by corruption or companies flouting the rules.

Companies are under pressure to improve their performance as the deadline looms for compliance with commitments under the Consumer Goods Forum, which is to meet in June in London.

That commitment, which began in 2010, involved a resolution by companies to reduce deforestation through their palm oil supply chain to net zero by this year.

Net zero means that some deforestation could be made up for by restoring or growing forests elsewhere.

Separately, RAN assessed eight global brands — Kellogg’s, General Mills, Mondelez, Hershey’s, Mars, PepsiCo, Nestle and Unilever — involved in a key area of Southeast Asia known as the Leuser ecosystem.

The survey found none were performing adequately in avoiding “conflict palm oil,” defined as palm oil whose production is leading to deforestation, loss of peatland or other habitat, and exploitation of workers or indigenous peoples.

“The policy commitments of [all eight companies] have not stopped deforestation, threats to endangered species, or delivered respect for human rights or remedy for exploitation of indigenous peoples, local communities and workers,” RAN said.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top