Campaign Updates & News

United Nations Secretary General Celebrates Commitments by Wilmar and Kellogg to Deforestation-Free Palm Oil

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, had some positive words to say about the recent palm oil policy announcements by Kellogg and Wilmar and other industry leaders. Said Ki-moon, “I welcome these announcements to buy palm oil from deforestation-free, peat-free and exploitation-free sources. Such actions have the potential to transform the entire palm oil industry, with considerable positive implications for our efforts to combat climate change, protect biodiversity and promote social justice."

The whole United Nations press release is below the jump. 

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Forest Heroes Hiring Heroic Campaign Organizers

Forest Heroes is Hiring! We need some incredible organizers to help convince a new company to commit to deforestation-free palm oil. Who? You'll find you in the job description below, originally posted at Catapult.

Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago, White Plains, NY; San Francisco Bay Area

The Forest Heroes campaign is a global effort to protect the world’s rainforests. The campaign has achieved major global successes in the effort to end deforestation by ensuring that the world’s biggest commodity traders and end-users source raw materials like palm oil, paper, and soybeans from truly sustainable sources free from links to tropical deforestation. Among our successes in the past year: a global campaign to convince Asia’s largest agribusiness company, Wilmar International, which controls 45 percent of global palm oil trade, to adopt an industry-leading “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation” policy through communications, grassroots organizing, and direct engagement at the CEO level. And we won similar commitments from Kellogg’s and other companies. Now, we want to build on that success to transform the rest of the palm oil industry – the leading driver of deforestation, climate change and species extinction in Southeast Asia.

To do so, we need super-talented organizers with a passion for forests, wildlife and people who can make this vision for living forests a reality. You’ll get to work with some of the most talented organizers, communications pros, advocates and experts in the world. It will require strategic thinking, nimbleness, ability to recruit coalition partners, and volunteers, a flair for visibility, and a deep love for the work. But with that, it’s an opportunity to achieve truly world-transforming success – and build a stronger forest movement for the long term.

SCOPE OF WORK

The Forest Heroes Campaign seeks a team of experienced, driven, and talented contract field organizers to help build a robust grassroots movement demanding that major companies stop using agricultural commodities that are fueling rainforest destruction, species extinction, climate change, land conflicts, and human rights violations. The organizers will be responsible for rapidly building visible support for a campaign to convince Dunkin Donuts and its suppliers (like agri-business companies Cargill, IOI Loders Croklaan, and Bunge) to stop destroying the rainforest in order to grow palm oil to fry doughnuts, and to pass a deforestation-free commodity sourcing policy. Core responsibilities will include grassroots organizing, coalition-building, media, birddogging, and generating campaign visibility. (Click here for more background on Forest Heroes.)

More details on the job below. 

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Grand Rapids Business Journal Writes the Final Word on Kellogg's Palm Oil Commitment

The Grand Rapid Business Journal, the most trusted name in business news in Western Michigan, just published an incredible and comprehensive article on Kellogg's landmark palm oil commitment. Right off the top, journalist Charlsie Dewey credits Forest Heroes -- and grassroots advocates like you! -- with pressuring the company and catalyzing the policy shift. 

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.

Definitely check out the rest of the article. This isn't, by the way, the first time that Dewey covered Forest Heroes for the Grand Rapid Business Journal, having written about the Cereal Bowl for their print edition back in November

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Thanking Kellogg in the Battle Creek Enquirer

Battle_Creek_Enquirer_Logo.jpgThe Battle Creek Enquirer, Kellogg's hometown newspaper, covered every twist and turn of the Forest Heroes campaign in Michigan. It is fitting then that they published a Letter to the Editor from one of the great Forest Heroes volunteers, Bonnie DiGennaro of Battle Creek, thanking Kellogg for announcing its new, ambitious palm oil policy. Here is her letter in full:

Although many people have expressed disappointment over Kellogg’s decision to relocate some of its operations, the company deserves big congratulations for doing what is right for the planet.

The company now has a written policy to use palm oil that has been obtained through sustainable sources.

This decision parallels Nestle Company’s sustainable policy that is, in my opinion, an industry model. Wilmar, a large distributor of palm oil that has partnered with Kellogg, also agreed to devise a sustainable palm oil policy.

So thank you, Kellogg, for your decision. If the endangered tigers, pygmy elephants, and orangutans, along with the indigenous people whose livelihood is endangered by the destruction of their environment and the release of carbon into the atmosphere could join me in thanking you, they would.

Our planet, which is struggling under the greenhouse effect, is beginning to show its powerful response to wanton human indifference in the form of destructive weather patterns. Your example begins to address that indifference.

Bonnie DiGennaro

Battle Creek

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The Drumbeat Continues: Major New Commitment from Mars

It seems like every week brings a new company committing to responsible palm oil production — and today, that company is global confectionary leader Mars, Inc. The company responsible for M&M’s, Snickers, Twix and a host of other products announced a new commitment to implement a fully traceable palm oil supply chain.

According to the Rainforest Action Network, which was instrumental in securing the new commitment, the new requirement demands that all palm oil companies supplying the US$30 billion company eliminate rainforest destruction, human rights violations and climate pollution from their supply chains or be dropped by 2015.

As part of the announcement, the company revealed it would become a member of the sustainable products nonprofit TFT.

Our take: We commend Mars for their new commitment, and think it shows that the pace of palm oil industry transformation is only picking up. The beat goes on.

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New Union of Concerned Scientists Report Shows Industry Leaders and Laggards in Palm Oil Policies

The results are in, and the grades for the palm oil commitments of America’s biggest brands are not good.

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, Donuts, Deodorant, and Deforestation: Scoring America's Top Brands on Their Palm Oil Commitments, comprehensively examines the ten largest companies in three major sectors -- packaged foods, personal care, and fast food -- assigning a score to their findings.

The UCS found a handful of leaders -- like Unilever, Nestle, and L’Oreal -- and an overabundance of laggards. The worst performing sector, by far, is the fast food industry. Exactly none of the ten largest fast food companies scored high enough to achieve the “full commitment” badge. Only one, Subway, achieved a rank of “some commitment.” McDonald’s earned a “weak commitment,” and the eight others scored zeroes across the board, and were pegged with having “no commitment” at all.

Dunkin’ Brands, Dairy Queen, Burger King, and Starbucks were amongst those slow-to-adapt companies piled at the bottom of the palm oil commitment rankings.

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Tipping Point: Announcement by GAR means MAJORITY of world’s palm oil covered by deforestation-free sourcing policies

Golden-Agri-300x176.jpgOn Friday, February 28, the palm oil industry crossed an important threshold: A new policy from Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) means that most of the palm oil in the world is going to come from sources that don’t drive deforestation.

  • GAR has long been a significant player in the palm oil industry, and is the second-largest palm oil grower in the world. In 2011, responding to Nestlé’s Responsible Sourcing Guidelines, GAR worked with the sustainable products nonprofit TFT and Greenpeace to establish a landmark Forest Conservation Policy for the palm oil it grows.
  • But GAR’s 2010 policy did not apply to the palm oil it traded – which, at the time, was minimal. Over the past year, however, GAR has dramatically expanded its trading operation and now controls about ten percent of global palm oil trade.
  • On a shareholder call on Friday and in a filing posted on the Singapore Stock Exchange, GAR announced that it is extending its landmark Forest Conservation Policy to the palm oil it trades.
  • GAR’s new policy puts them in line with Wilmar International’s “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation” policy announced December 5. Wilmar controls about 45 percent of global palm oil trade.

Together, GAR and Wilmar trade most of the palm oil in the world – and as of today, that means most of the palm oil in the world is going to be responsibly sourced.

“GAR’s announcement signals that an industry that has been synonymous with deforestation and species extinction is rapidly evolving towards responsible production,” said Glenn Hurowitz, Executive Director of Catapult, who worked with Wilmar to develop their policy. “The industry has reached a tipping point. Consumer companies now have several different options to source deforestation-free palm oil, and no longer need to rely on companies like Cargill and IOI Loders Croklaan that continue to resist change. Investors should take note that companies that continue to deforest just aren’t going to have the same kind of market access as their competitors. In the debate over the future of the palm oil industry, the forests are winning.”

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Media Reacts to Kellogg's Grrrrrreat New Palm Oil Policy

By now you've surely heard of Kellogg's new palm oil policy. If not from us here at Forest Heroes, then from one of the dozens of national and local news stories that have covered the big policy shift. 

There has been so much coverage that we're gathering it all in one place. 

So here's a roundup of all the news stories about the announcement. We'll continue to update this as more stories are written. 

Let's start with the Associated Press article, that has been republished dozens of times all over the country: KELLOGG TO USE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PALM OIL. Here are just a small sample of the AP pickups:

The Associated Press also put out this brief, which was published in many print editions of newspapers, including the New York Times.

And here are the rest of the media hits:

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Kellogg to Stop Buying Deforested Palm Oil Amid Pressure

The GuardianKellogg's to buy only sustainably sourced palm oil

Christian Science MonitorKellogg pushes sustainable palm oil: Is it enough?

Trust.org/Thomson Reuters FoundationFood giants Kellogg, Delhaize pledge to make palm oil supplies greener

Battle Creek EnquirerKellogg revamps palm oil policy

ThinkProgress: Kellogg Promises To Sustainably Source Palm Oil In Effort To Fight Deforestation 

The ConsumeristKellogg Commits To Only Buying Environmentally Friendly Palm Oil

Detroit NewsKellogg to stop using deforested palm oil by 2016 amid pressure

Franchise HeraldKellogg Palm Oil: Food Company Opts For Substance Not Made Through Harming Tropical Rainforests

MongaBayIn Girl Scouts vs. Kellogg’s over palm oil, rainforests and orangutans win

More online media hits after the jump:

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Kellogg's Announces Grrrrrreat New Palm Oil Commitment. Tony Would Be Proud

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Huge news today out of Battle Creek. Kellogg's has stepped it up and announced a new, ambitious palm oil commitment.

The new commitment requires suppliers to adhere to the following practices by December 31, 2015.  

 

  • No deforestation: Suppliers must protect forests, endangered species habitat, lands with high carbon content, and peatland of any depth, going beyond the inadequate requirements of current roundtable-derived standards.
  • No exploitation: Suppliers are required to protect human and community rights, including land tenure rights and obtain Free, Prior, and Informed Consent from communities for development on their lands.
  • Traceability: Kellogg is working with suppliers to achieve full traceability of its palm oil back to known plantation sources.

 

The announcement comes not long after a December declaration by Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm company, that it would enact a new “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation Policy” for all the palm oil across its supply chain. For months the The Forest Heroes campaign mobilized thousands of Michiganders and people across the globe to call on Kellogg to influence Wilmar, its joint venture partner, to adopt these strong standards.  Kellogg’s did just that and Wilmar listened!

Then, advocates called on Kellogg’s to get its own house in order by enacting strong sourcing policies of its own. Just two weeks ago, local residents delivered 365 photo petitions in the form of a picture-a-day calendar to the Kellogg headquarters in Battle Creek, demanding that the company become a true “Forest Hero” in 2014. 

Today, Kellogg did just that, joining a growing number of companies in making deforestation-free commitments that are helping set a new standard for the industry.

“Today, Kellogg’s decided to become a Forest Hero,” said Jez Vedua, a Battle Creek resident, dietician, and volunteer with the Forest Heroes campaign. “Kellogg has truly shown that from great starts come great things. After helping change the global palm oil sector last December, today they put their own house in order. Once this commitment is backed up by a policy and implemented in full, consumers can be sure Kellogg’s cereal and other products aren’t made from palm oil grown by destroying rainforests.”

If fully enacted, the commitment would go a long way in making the company a global leader in promoting a more responsible palm oil supply.

Share the good news with your friends and followers. Here's a sample Tweet: 
New @KelloggCompany commitment on palm oil and rainforest protection is grrrreeaat! http://bit.ly/1j89nq9

Read the Catapult Action press release below for more of the juicy details, and check out more "thank you" photos from Forest Heroes below:

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Why Bunge Matters: Agribusiness Giant Excessively Reliant On Peatland-Destroying Palm Oil

Joel Finkelstein of Catapult Action shared some important information about the agribusiness company Bunge and its relation to Wilmar and Sarawak. Here's his explainer, shared from the Catapult Action blog, with some tips below. 

 

On today's earnings call (info here) at 10 am ET, agribusiness giant company Bunge Limited (NYSE: BG) will report on its global business results. But evidence has just emerged that Bunge is excessively reliant on a single palm oil supplier that has engaged in rampant deforestation and clearance of ultra carbon rich peatland, and is working to sabotage emerging progress that is breaking the link between commodity production and deforestation.

Why This Matters: Bunge and Sarawak

Sarawak Oil Palms Bhd (SOP) is actively working to sabotage progress towards protecting forests, peatlands, and the people that rely on them. According to trade data, Bunge purchases 88% of the Sarawak Oil Palms Bhd Company exports. According to Bunge’s own filings with the industry trade group, this represents approximately 44% of Bunge’s total global palm oil supply.

Sourcing from SOP will likely make Bunge ineligible to supply to major global, premium value customers because of SOP’s rampant deforestation and clearance of peat. The world’s largest palm oil consumers including Nestle, Unilever, Hershey’s, Mondelez, Ferrero Rocher, Neste Oil, Safeway, and Reckitt Benckiser have all made public commitments not to source palm oil from companies engaged in deforestation or peatland clearance. Many other companies are racing to adopt similar policies in response to rising pressure from consumers. Continuing to source from SOP means that Bunge will have a difficult time accessing these markets.

Sarawak’s actions have drawn the attention of major companies and investors and create a significant liability for Bunge. Reporters should ask what actions it will take to mitigate this risk.

Wilmar International (the world’s largest palm oil trader with a 45% market share) recently announced its “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation” policy that requires their suppliers to immediately cease deforestation, peatland clearance and human rights abuse. Wilmar is working hard to implement the policy, and we have already seen many supplier companies take action to comply. As such, the policy has created important momentum.

Again, info on the call can be found here.  

More on Sarawak below 

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