Yesterday, the Battle Creek Forest Heroes team joined up with allies from the Rainforest Action Network and went straight to the headquarters of Kellogg’s to deliver a set of demands, along with a newly released RAN report profiling Kellogg’s and 19 other snack food companies that are contributing to deforestation through their use of palm oil in their products. And for the second time in as many days, Tony the Tiger’s hometown newspaper, the Battle Creek Enquirer, covered the campaign.
Later in the day, serendipity struck as the team happened upon Kellogg’s CEO John Bryant in a coffee shop and were able to convey their concerns directly to the man atop the company!
But let’s start with the action at Kellogg’s headquarters. Our friend and RAN organizer, Jess Serrante, wrote up a great post about the action on the RAN blog. Here’s how Jess described the action:
Today an orangutan called Strawberry, along with RAN’s Palm Oil Action Team and local residents from Battle Creek, Michigan, paid a visit to the home of Tony the Tiger, a.k.a Kellogg’s headquarters, to call on the snack food giant to cut “Conflict Palm Oil” from its products.
Strawberry’s family lives in the forests of Indonesia on the island of Sumatra, but the expansion of palm oil plantations is threatening their home. After Strawberry learned that Kellogg’s was using Conflict Palm Oil in its products, she set out to tell her story to the company directly and ask the decisonmakers at Kellogg’s to make sure they help protect her family’s home.
Strawberry hoped she might meet Tony the Tiger—thinking he might be a cousin to the Sumatran tigers she knows from home—but instead she met with his keepers. At the Kellogg’s HQ, she and her friends from the palm oil action team gave representatives of the Kellogg Company a copy of the report that RAN released last week, titled Conflict Palm Oil: How US Snack Food Brands are Contributing to Orangutan Extinction, Climate Change and Human Rights Violations, and outlined RANs demand to cut Conflict Palm Oil.
And, again, following up on the big cover story about Forest Heroes, the Battle Creek Enquirer covered this action.
From the Enquirer article:
Representatives from the Rainforest Action Network and a second group, the Forest Heroes campaign, have asked the Battle Creek-based cereal giant to ensure palm oil used in Kellogg products is legally grown and “not associated with deforestation, expansion onto-carbon rich peatlands or human and labor rights violations.” They have also asked Kellogg to only partner with companies “who are willing to eliminate conflict palm oil from their global supply chains.”…
A local campaigner with Forest Heroes is trying to gain support in Kellogg’s hometown to pressure the company to end its ties with Wilmar International. That Singapore-based company has been accused of engaging in illegal deforestation practices to produce palm oil.
To cap off an exciting day, Forest Heroes organizer Margaret Kran-Annexstein and two campaigners happened upon Kellogg’s CEO John Bryant in a coffee shop after the delivery at headquarters. They got to talk to the CEO for a few minutes and express our collective concerns about the company’s partnership with Wilmar and sourcing of “conflict palm oil”. When Margaret asked him to use his leverage with Wilmar to influence the company to stop contributing to deforestation, Mr. Bryant was described as aware of the Forest Heroes campaign and a bit defensive, saying that he had talked to Wilmar’s CEO specifically about sustainability and that the partnership was under contract, so ultimately nothing could be done. However, he revealed that Kellogg’s contract with Wilmar is valued at $10 million, certainly valuable enough for Wilmar’s CEO to pick up the phone and listen when Kellogg’s calls. Mr. Bryant also tried to pass the buck to the VP of Sustainability rather than taking responsibility for his company’s actions or seeing his own leadership opportunity to be a real forest hero by helping reverse one of the most ecologically damaging industries in the world–the palm oil industry.