Campaign Updates & News

IOI: The Worst Company You've Never Heard Of


Until now, you've probably never heard of IOI, or its North American division IOI Loders Croklaan. The IOI Group is a massive, Malaysian-based palm oil conglomerate that supplies palm oil to hundreds of companies worldwide. IOI Loders Croklaan is the edible oils division, connecting consumer-facing food and snack companies with palm oil supply. 

Unfortunately, the palm oil supplied by the dozens of subsidiaries and affiliates of IOI is some of the worst and in the world. The plantations operated by IOI and its affiliates -- like a company called Bumitama, which itself is one-third owned by IOI -- are terribly destructive, laying waste to tropical rainforests, draining and digging up carbon-rich peatlands, ruining the habitats of vulnerable orangutans and critically endangered Sumatran tigers, and exploiting local communities and workers alike. 

While much of the industry is transforming at this very moment -- with some of the biggest palm oil producers and traders in the world recently committing to deforestation-free, peat-free, and exploitation-free policies -- IOI and its affiliates are the worst laggards. 

To learn more, download this Forest Heroes fact sheet on IOI

But to really get a sense of how bad the company is, you have to take a look on the ground, at the plantations themselves, where it is crystal clear to the naked eye how diverse rainforest habitats and carbon-rich peatlands are being laid to waste in order to plant palm oil plantations. 

Here photographs from friends and partners of Forest Heroes, showing a few different case studies -- low-lights, really -- of the rampant clearing, deforestation, and destruction conducted by IOI and its subsidiaries in Indonesia. To see even more images, click through to this slideshow on Flickr

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Agribusiness Giant Cargill Announces Major New Pledge To End Rainforest Destruction For Palm Oil

Huge news out of Minneapolis today, as agribusiness giant Cargill has announced on their website a new "policy on sustainable palm oil."

As the largest importer of palm oil into the North America, this is an incredibly exciting development, and the latest in a steady stream of palm oil traders who have announced strong commitments to responsible palm oil sourcing. Over the past several months, Cargill competitors like Wilmar International and Golden-Agri Resources have set the benchmark for deforestation-free, peat-free, and exploitation-free palm oil. Today, Cargill pledged to meet the same standards.

This tidal wave of change in the palm oil industry would not have been possible without action from citizens like you, demanding that companies across the supply chain adopt responsible sourcing practices. 

Let's thank Cargill for this giant move, and ask the company to take the key next steps: quickly follow through on its commitment to issue a detailed implementation plan as well as expand its policy to include all commodities.
Update: Nathanael Johnson at Grist covered the Cargill pledge: Cargill promises to get right with palm oil. And E&E News also covered the announcement, but you'll need a subscription to see the article. 
Here's the Forest Heroes press release on the announcement:


Implementation Plan Critical to Success

MINNEAPOLIS – In a major announcement signaling a transformational shift in the global palm oil market, agribusiness giant Cargill adopted a new commitment for its palm oil supply chain: an end to deforestation, peatland destruction and community and worker exploitation. The commitment was put online today

“Cargill’s new commitment is a big deal,” said Forest Heroes Campaign Chair Glenn Hurowitz. “By committing to only produce, trade and sell responsible palm oil, it is joining other industry leaders in a global transformation to agricultural growth that protects forests and community rights. Today’s announcement is good news for tigers, orangutans and everyone who values the world’s last great forests.”

Cargill is the largest importer of palm oil into North America, and is responsible for a significant amount of the global palm oil trade. Kellogg’s, General Mills, Nestlé, Pepsi, Mars, Ferrero Rocher, Mondelez and many other major brands have committed to only using deforestation-free palm oil. Cargill is also a major supplier to the doughnut sector—the most visible user of palm oil in the US—increasingly under pressure from consumers and forest advocates to adopt responsible purchasing standards for palm oil.

Today’s pledge moves Cargill toward the new benchmark for responsible sourcing of palm oil, set by agribusiness competitors like Wilmar International and Golden Agri-Resources that together control most of the world’s supply. Cargill will need a detailed implementation plan and also needs to verify rapid compliance or termination of problematic suppliers such as Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK), which a Businessweek investigation found uses forced and child labor to toil on its plantations. It also should take further action to reduce use of hazardous pesticides and to treat methane emissions from palm oil mills, a globally significant source of climate pollution.

Palm oil is a $50 billion a year commodity. It is in half of all consumer goods on the shelves, but is too often grown by clearing tropical forests for oil palm plantations. That threatens the lives of tens of millions of people who depend on rainforests to survive – and pushes species like Sumatran tigers and orangutans to the brink. Clearing carbon-rich peatlands also sends huge amounts of carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

“Cargill should now turn to meaningful, fast and transparent implementation to deliver on the promise they made today,” said Hurowitz. “Through its involvement in the Brazilian soy moratorium, Cargill has already proven that it’s possible to eliminate deforestation while increasing production. Now they need to extend these no-deforestation principles across all of their commodities, such as soy, sugar and cattle.”

Palm oil is not the first time Cargill has engaged on the sustainability impact of its commodity business. A few years ago, a quarter of Amazon deforestation was driven by soy production. But after feedback from customers like McDonald’s, Cargill became a leader in establishing a moratorium on new forest clearing. As a result, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon declined from 25 percent for soy to 0.25% in just three years; and soy production kept increasing as growers planted on degraded lands instead of pristine forests. Today’s move could help translate into significant similar progress in the palm oil sector, and provide momentum to continue the soy moratorium.

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Forest Heroes Weighs in on African Palm Oil Deforestation for NPR

Earlier this week, NPR covered the spread of palm oil production into Africa -- a development that is threatening Great Apes like chimpanzees and gorillas -- and our own Campaign Chair offered some thoughts on how the destruction could be slowed. 

From The Salt blog:

As we've reported, in response to pressure from environmental groups, consumers and investors, companies like Kellogg and Dunkin Donuts have committed to using sustainable palm oil.

Glenn Hurowitz, the campaign director at Forest Heroes, a rain forest protection coalition, says the African rain forests and the apes that live there can be saved. "I'm cautiously optimistic," he says. "We're pushing for companies to adopt no-deforestation policies."

And some producers are listening. Wilmar and Golden Agri-Resources, both big palm oil producers working in Asia and Africa, have such policies.

Wich says that's a bit of good news for apes. "There is some progress but it's going very slowly," he says. "And oil palm development is happening very fast."

Forest Heroes will keep working to stop the destruction of forest habitats the world over. 

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The Palm Oil Manifesto: An Exercise in Greenwashing

What is a rainforest? Seems like an easy enough question to answer.

But apparently not for some of the world’s worst forest destroyers, like palm oil producers IOI Loders Croklaan, Sime Darby, and KLK. These companies know that their customers – the world’s big consumer companies like Nestle, Kellogg, Mars and others will only buy palm oil free from connection to deforestation.

But instead of stopping clearing the forest, these companies are just attempting to change the definition of a forest – so they can continue to conduct business as usual. Specifically, this alliance of palm oil companies has proposed to study how much carbon a forest must contain before it should be considered protected land.

Seems reasonable. But the problem is that these standards are already established, already scientifically studied, and already accepted. Palm oil giants Wilmar and Golden Agri-Resources (together representing more than half of global palm oil trade) as well as Asia Pulp and Paper are all already implementing forest conservation policies that have credible scientifically-derived standards to protect all High Carbon Stock forests – essentially anything that’s older than degraded grassland or young scrub. Wilmar, for instance, protects forests that are greater than ten years in age – a very reasonable cutoff. Now suppliers like IOI are blatantly ignoring the science and coming up with their own definitions to meet their own greedy agendas.

While additional research is always welcome and useful, it needs to be conducted by credible scientists and technical experts in an inclusive and transparent process, not by the very companies who have a vested interest in the outcome.

How can you tell that the study isn’t being conducted in good faith? Unlike previous efforts, companies like IOI Loders Croklaan, Sime Darby and KLK are refusing to declare a moratorium on deforestation while they’re studying the forest. Which means that they’ll basically be studying the forest as a bulldozer whacks it down. This is a bit like the Japanese government’s efforts to conduct research on whales – by harpooning them.

These same unscrupulous producers and traders have come together to sign onto a “Palm Oil Manifesto” which sounds good on the surface, but in the fine print has significant loopholes that allow for continued clearance of high carbon forests and peatlands.  And the standards are narrowly applied, excluding the palm oil these companies trade and the palm oil produced by joint venture partners and subsidiaries with whom the companies own minority shares.  The manifesto falls far short of the responsible sourcing guidelines recently adopted by Wilmar International and Golden Agri-Resources, and has failed to get support from even one consumer company or non-governmental organization.

If the greenwashing goes on without a fight, the rampant destruction of Southeast Asia’s critical rainforests will continue. Consumer companies and financiers should insist that palm oil companies at least respect the science, and start protecting forests.

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Krispy Kreme puts green frosting over its deforestation palm oil

Forest Heroes has been calling on Krispy Kreme to use responsible palm oil that doesn't destroy rainforests or peatlands and doesn't harm people.

Krispy Kreme issued a very weak response that does not address the concerns raised by the campaign.

First, they said that they will only buy palm oil for their US supply chain from members of a group called the "Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil," or RSPO.

Second, they said they purchase something called "GreenPalm" certificates to cover their US palm oil usage.

There are three important things to know about Krispy Kreme's response:

1) NOTHING they said changes the fact that the palm oil they use to fry their doughnuts may be grown by cutting down rainforests, draining and digging up carbon-rich peatlands or exploiting local communities.

2) The RSPO is a palm oil industry lobby group dominated by IOI and other unscrupulous traders that sets a lowest-common-denominator standard, and has refused to pass rules ending deforestation or protecting carbon-rich peatlands. And members are rarely, if ever, kicked out for violating the very weak standards. And “GreenPalm” certificates have enormous loopholes: you can get certified even if you’re getting palm oil from tropical "secondary" forests or peatlands – or even if you're using using highly toxic banned chemicals like paraquat.

About two-thirds of Asian forests remain unprotected by this standard. Even worse, palm oil companies like IOI can get "GreenPalm" certificates for palm oil plantations that were established 50 years ago in peninsular Malaysia -- and can then sell them for a few dollars a ton, using the money to finance deforestation and establishment of new plantations in frontier areas in Borneo, Sumatra, and Papua New Guinea. In short, GreenPalm certificates may actually be driving even more deforestation.

3) This very weak commitment only applies to Krispy Kreme's US supply chain, not internationally, despite having thousands of stores in other countries.

Again, NOTHING they said changes the fact that the palm oil they use to fry their doughnuts may be grown by cutting down rainforests, draining and digging up carbon-rich peatlands or exploiting local communities.

Go ahead. Ask them.

The nice thing about the responsible palm oil standard now covering most of the palm oil in the world -- is that it actually very simple. It adheres to a straightforward set of standards: No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation.

Real doughnut lovers know: if you're cutting down trees to fry doughnuts, you're doing something really wrong.

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Forest Heroes Keep the Heat on Krispy Kreme at Jacksonville Store Opening

Stand in solidarity with the Forest Heroes in Jacksonville, Florida. Sign the petition demanding that Krispy Kreme clean up its palm oil supply chain and help preserve the forest habitat of endangered orangutans and Sumatran tigers.

Another week, another Krispy Kreme store opening, and another chance for Forest Heroes to show the company how serious the public is about palm oil. 


Last week, Forest Heroes organizers and volunteers gathered in New Castle, Delaware and Madison, Tennessee at two Krispy Kreme store openings to educate customers about the truth behind the bubbling palm oil that makes Krispy’s doughnuts “Hot Now."

This morning, the same scene played out in Jacksonville, Florida, thanks to the support of volunteers from a local advocacy group called the Girls Gone Green. (Update: Girls Gone Green founded Julie Watkins talked about the action at Krispy Kreme and palm oil in general on her podcast, starting around 12:50. She also has a lot more photos of the JAX action below the podcast player.) 

Word from our organizers on the ground is that management was ready for the action, and had alerted police and the Sheriff's office, all of whom were there in full force.  

There were also at least two local television stations there to document the whole affair. 


After speaking to some patrons in line, volunteers were asked to leave the premises, but were told by the police that they could stand on the public sidewalk in front of the store. 

Several supportive Krispy Kreme customers took the Forest Heroes flyer into the store to hand to the on-duty manager. Here's one customer's short account of the reaction she received from the manager:

If you want to support the Forest Heroes in Jacksonville from home, please Tweet out this note:

Deforestation Doughnuts #HotNow @KrispyKreme Grand Opening 

Update: The action in Jacksonville was covered by at least two local media outlets in articles about the events. Here is the First Coast News, and here is the Florida Times-Union on the controversy at the grand opening. 

Find a press release about the event after the jump. 

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We Went There: Forest Heroes Bring Campaign to Krispy Kreme Grand Openings

Show solidarity for the brave Forest Heroes who brought the unappetizing truth of Krispy Kreme's rainforest destruction to the grand openings of two new stores this morning. Sign the petition demanding that Krispy Kreme clean up its palm oil supply chain and help preserve the forest habitat of endangered orangutans and Sumatran tigers.

This morning, Krispy Kreme opened two new stores in New Castle, Delaware and Madison, Tennessee. They were expecting long lines of eager customers ready to sink their teeth into the company’s famous hot doughnuts.

They weren’t expecting these customers to be greeted by Forest Heroes volunteers, there to educate the new patrons about the truth behind the bubbling palm oil that makes Krispy’s doughnuts “Hot Now."

Check out the scene in New Castle:

The volunteers gather at sunrise:


The volunteers fly the banner and hold up "Stop Now" signs right in front of the newly-opened Krispy Kreme.  


Volunteers engaged with the customers, who were very curious and bummed out to learn of Krispy Kreme's "no questions asked" palm oil non-policy. 



It wasn't long before management kicked the group out. Clearly Krispy Kreme understands that the public knowing the unappetizing truth about its links to rainforest destruction is bad for business. But the volunteers weren't deterred.  They just moved across the street, where they held their banners and signs.  Customers shouted support to the gathered volunteers, and cars honked their approval, and several drove by and asked for a campaign flyer. 


And here's an update from Tennessee:

When volunteers arrived, security were already stationed at every entrance ready to kick out the group. So the volunteers went to a public area next to the store and held the banners and signs up during the store's ribbon cutting event. 


Passionate kids in tiger face paint called upon Krispy Kreme to save the Sumatran tigers and orangutans. You can see one of the police across the street, hearing every word that the young activists call out. 


These actions are the first at Krispy Kreme stores, as Forest Heroes supporters ramp up the campaign against the company’s destructive practices.

Support the Forest Heroes in Delaware and Tennessee by signing the petition and if you're able, send out these sample tweets:

Tell @KrispyKreme "Don't make us choose between protecting forests and #doughnutcravings"

Until they change to deforestation-free palm oil, expect Forest Heroes @KrispyKreme openings:

UpdateThe Philadelphia Inquirer covered the Forest Heroes presence in New Castle in a blog post titled, "Now who would picket the opening of a Krispy Kreme?"

And here is Philly-based news site Newsworks with an article titled, "Thousands celebrate Krispy Kreme opening in Delaware."

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Forest Heroes Dominate National Doughnut Day Media

Friday was National Doughnut Day, and along with our partners at SumOfUs, Forest Heroes released a report, Deforestation Doughnuts, that shows just how bad the doughnut industry is for the Sumatran tigers, orangutans, and forest peoples.

If you haven't seen the report already, go check it out. Then sign our petition to Krispy Kreme, telling the company that we don’t want to have to choose between their delicious donuts and rainforest destruction.

Clearly, the report struck a nerve with the American public, and the media. We all love doughnuts, but many didn't realize how much palm oil was used in baking them, nor how bad the palm oil purchased by big companies like Krispy Kreme, Tim Hortons, and Dunkin Donuts really is.

Here's a quick roundup of media coverage of National Doughnut Day and our Deforestation Doughnuts report.


NPR, All Things Considered: Doughnut Day Downer: Palm Oil In Pastries Drives Deforestation: Includes an interview and visit to a local Krispy Kreme with Forest Heroes campaign chair Glenn Hurowitz!

Toronto Globe & Mail: Perils of palm oil put Tim Hortons under fire

Grist: Mmmm! Doughnuts. Not-mmmm: Palm oil

Mongabay: National doughnut chains contributing to deforestation, says report

Treehugger: It's National Doughnut Day -- but the big chains are still destroying rainforests

Huffington Post: It's Not All Colored Sprinkles and Jelly Filling Joy on National Doughnut Day

The Scrutineer, Al Jazeera America: Is National Doughnut Day Frying the Planet?

Vice: We Talked to Dunkin' Donuts About Palm Oil on National Doughnut Day

We'll keep updating this list with any more news coverage of the report.

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Deforestation Doughnuts: Our New Report on the Dark Side of the Doughnut Industry

Screen_Shot_2014-06-05_at_12.51.59_PM.pngIt’s National Doughnut Day, and if you’re lucky (or smart) you’ve grabbed a free treat from one of the many national chains offering free doughnuts today.

While the day may be fun, and free doughnuts are awesome, today is also a good opportunity to shed some light on a not-so-sweet aspect of the otherwise delicious treats.

Today, Forest Heroes and SumOfUs are releasing a report, Deforestation Doughnuts, that shows just how bad the doughnut industry is for the Sumatran tigers, orangutans, and forest peoples.

The report explains how big national doughnut chains have a "no questions asked" policy for palm oil purchasing, and how that's driving rampant deforestation. It examines the palm oil policies (or lack thereof) of companies like Krispy Kreme, Tim Hortons, and Dunkin' Donuts, and then exposes the disturbing practices of their palm oil suppliers.

We're also launching a petition to Krispy Kreme, telling the company that we don’t want to have to choose between their delicious donuts and rainforest destruction. 

Palm oil is the second ingredient listed for many doughnuts, right after flour. And while palm oil is in hundreds of products on North American shelves, consumers rarely come face to face (or hand to mouth) with it like they do when buying doughnuts from stores like Krispy Kreme, Tim Hortons, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Palm oil is used to fry the doughnuts, so when you wipe your hands after eating a Boston Creme or glazed crueller, that’s palm oil you see on the greasy napkin.

Unfortunately, as you know if you've been following the Forest Heroes campaign, about half of all the palm oil produced in the world comes from incredibly destructive practices. Palm oil suppliers like Cargill, IOI Loders Croklann, and Bunge sell palm oil grown by cutting down rainforests, destroying carbon-rich peatlands, and exploiting local communities.

When Krispy Kreme, Tim Hortons, and Dunkin’ Donuts buy from these suppliers, they’re complicit in the destruction.

It’s easy to find better palm oil. Over half the palm oil produced in the world today is covered by strict “No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation” policies. It would be easy for Krispy Kreme and others in the industry to buy responsible palm oil.

Please sign the petition and share this report.

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Cargill's Choice: Become a Forest Hero or Remain a Leader in Destruction

Screen_Shot_2014-05-29_at_1.22.09_PM.pngThe palm oil industry is changing so fast, it’s hard to keep up with all the companies that have sworn off rainforest-destroying palm oil. Here at Forest Heroes, we’ve celebrated landmark announcements from Kellogg, Wilmar, and Golden-Agri Resources, and are hoping for some positive news from Dunkin' Donuts any day now.

While over half of all palm oil traded today is now covered by responsible sourcing policies, we still have a lot of work to do on the laggards.

Cargill, as the largest privately-owned company in the country and the largest importer of palm oil into the United States, could make a huge difference.

We’re launching a petition and campaign calling upon Cargill’s CEO David MacLennan to catch up to the competition and become a leader in responsible commodity sourcing.

Other big palm oil traders like Wilmar and Golden-Agri Resources have already announced strong deforestation-free, peat-free, and exploitation-free policies, making Cargill’s “no questions asked” approach shameful. The industry is transforming, and there’s no acceptable excuse for wrecking rainforests and threatening the last 400 remaining Sumatran tigers.

Please sign our petition and tell Cargill that it’s time to become a forest hero.  

Then read some more about Cargill’s up and down record of leading and lagging on forest issues.  

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