Food Service & Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Sustainability

Kellogg adopts new environmental commitment

Consumer pressure to control palm oil supply chain results in action.

March 21, 2014
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Following months of pressure from consumers and volunteers with the grassroots group Forest Heroes, Kellogg Co. has announced a new global commitment to work with palm oil suppliers to source fully traceable palm oil, produced in a manner that’s environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable.

Kellogg said it will work through its supply chain — from suppliers to processors to growers — to ensure the palm oil it uses is sourced from plantations that uphold the company’s commitment to protect forests and peat lands, as well as human and community rights.

“As a socially responsible company, traceable, transparent sourcing of palm oil is important to us, and we are collaborating with our suppliers to make sure the palm oil we use is not associated with deforestation, climate change or the violation of human rights,” said Diane Holdorf, Kellogg’s chief sustainability officer.

To achieve its goals, Kellogg will require all global palm oil suppliers to trace palm 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 Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil principles and criteria.

Suppliers must comply with the requirement by Dec. 31, 2015, or be working to close any gaps identified in their action plans.

Palm oil is commonly used in cookies, baked goods and other processed foods, and is a $50 billion a year industry.

Hundreds of volunteers joined the Forest Heroes campaign beginning in the fall and began putting pressure on Kellogg to enhance its environmental commitment regarding palm oil.

According to Forest Heroes, palm oil plantations are driving widespread destruction of tropical rainforests, including pushing wildlife like Sumatran tigers and orangutans to the edge of extinction and adding enormous climate pollution to the atmosphere. 

The organization is pushing users of palm oil to adopt strong policies that focus on environmentally and socially responsible practices.

“Kellogg’s new commitment is grrrrrrrreeeat!” said Deborah Lapidus, campaigns director of Catapult, which works with the Forest Heroes campaign. “Kellogg’s is sending a strong message to palm oil producers that traceable, deforestation-free and exploitation-free palm oil are core conditions for global market access. This action sends a signal that major traders like Cargill need to step up to meet the growing demand for responsible palm oil.”

Forest Heroes organizers pointed out the move is part of a recently developing trend of major global consumer companies such as Nestlé, Mondel?z, Unilever, Hershey’s, Ferrero Rocher, Reckitt Benckiser and others indicating their movement toward deforestation-free supply chains.

Forest Heroes had its first sign that its campaign was working and Kellogg was hearing its concerns in December, when the company used its influence to urge its joint venture partner Wilmar International — the world’s largest palm oil company — to adopt a policy to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain.

At that time, Wilmar announced a “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation” policy to protect forests and people throughout its supply chain.

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