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Kellogg Commits to Fully Traceable Palm Oil by End of 2015

Image credit: The Borneo Post

Kellogg Company has announced a commitment to work with its global palm oil suppliers to source fully traceable palm oil, “produced in a manner that's environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable.”

To do so, Kellogg is working through its supply chain — from suppliers to processors to growers — to ensure that its palm oil is sourced from plantations that uphold the company's commitment to protect forests and peat lands, as well as human and community rights.

To achieve its goals, Kellogg says it will require all global palm oil suppliers to trace the oil to plantations that are independently verified as legally compliant; adherent to the company's principles for protecting forests, peat lands, and communities; and compliant with all principles and criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), of which Kellogg is a member. Suppliers must comply with the requirement by Dec. 31, 2015, or be working to close any gaps identified in their action plans.

"By partnering closely with our suppliers to meet these expectations, we will work together to address the important topic of deforestation," said Diane Holdorf, Kellogg’s Chief Sustainability Officer. "Every year we make significant progress against this important priority, and as we seek to further advance these goals, we will continue to report annually on our progress."

The commitment is garnering support from external stakeholders such as Green Century Capital Management, an investment advisory firm that provides conscientious investors opportunities to direct their funds toward companies that exhibit — or in ways that encourage — environmentally responsible corporate behavior. Green Century, a long-term Kellogg shareholder, worked closely with them in updating this commitment.

"Green Century is excited to support Kellogg on this important palm oil journey, which will ensure the company's core values are upheld throughout the supply chain and create long-term value for both shareholders and the environment," said Lucia von Reusner, Shareholder Advocate at Green Century Capital Management.

Sharon Smith, campaign manager with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)’s Tropical Forest & Climate Initiative, pointed out the broader implications of Kellogg’s announcement: “Though the cereal company’s ingredients and climate change might seem like apples and oranges, the reduction of climate change emissions from palm oil production is directly dependent on the demand for this oil. If companies start demanding palm oil that doesn’t contribute to deforestation, isn’t grown on peatlands and doesn’t exploit human rights, palm oil producers on the ground will start to provide a better product. This better oil will ultimately protect our environment by reducing emissions.

“We hope that the commitments Kellogg’s outlined soon become industry requirements. We’d like to see all palm oil producers making oils with these values and companies walk away from suppliers that cannot prove their palm oil is deforestation-free, peat-free and conflict-free.”

In addition, Kellogg says it is:

  • Requiring that 100 percent of its palm oil comes from suppliers that also are RSPO members operating in compliance with RSPO principles and criteria.
  • Requiring through its Global Supplier Code of Conduct that suppliers commit to ethical business practices, respecting human rights, and reducing their impact on the environment.
  • Supporting the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) pledge to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020.

Palm oil has gained more attention recently as its prevalence as an ingredient — in everything from food and fuel to beauty products and cleaning agents — has dramatically increased its demand, and the devastating impacts of its cultivation on rainforests. UCS recently released an infographic to continue to raise consumer awareness of the importance of changing our practices around the sourcing of this ubiquitous ingredient:

UCS palm oil infographic

Click for full infographic.

“So far, Kellogg’s is riding high,” Smith said. “But the real question is whether the company is moving fast enough and aggressively enough to make this commitment a reality in time to address a rapidly changing climate?”

While a number of global consumer-goods brands — including Hershey, L’Oréal and Unilever — have announced various levels of commitment to responsible palm oil sourcing in recent months, dozens more — including Kellogg — source their oil from Singapore-based Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil processor, which accounts for over one-third of the global palm oil processing market. In December, after years of pressure from Greenpeace, NGOs and consumers around the world, Wilmar committed to a no-deforestation policy. While Greenpeace says the policy has the potential to be a landmark win for the world’s forests and the people that depend on them for their livelihoods, it now falls to Wilmar to follow through.

To learn more about how companies worldwide are cleaning up their supply chains, check out our editorial channel.

Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor at Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]


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