On Friday, the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment held a panel about “Environmental Careers.” Seeing as one of the panelists at this Career Week event was Kellogg’s Sustainability Manager Amy Braun, obviously Forest Heroes had to be there.
First of all, Ms. Braun spoke smartly and excitedly about the importance of “influencing the supply chain,” which is exactly what Forest Heroes organizers are asking the company to do with palm oil. She obviously believes in the great capacity for company’s like Kellogg to make a big positive impacts for the environment.
Now check out what happened next.
As panels often do, the speakers ran long and there was only time for one question.
The moderator called on someone at random. And the question — coming from someone with absolutely no affiliation with the Forest Heroes campaign — was about Kellogg’s relationship with Wilmar and the palm oil supply!
So, obviously, word of the destructive Wilmar partnership is spreading through all of Michigan. (Due in no small part to scenes like this one playing out throughout Michigan!)
Ms. Braun made a respectful joke about having “never heard of” the palm oil issue–a reference to the fact that the issue has been so visible recently in the media and amongst Kellogg’s consumers–and went on to talk about the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and how exactly a company can have those conversations with suppliers.
After the panel, Eva spoke directly with Ms. Braun, and reported back a very respectful dialogue in which Eva explained why RSPO palm oil still contributes to deforestationand why Kellogg’s is uniquely positioned to have leverage over Wilmar and in turn, affect the whole palm oil industry. The biggest takeaway: Kellogg is definitely well aware of the demands of Forest Heroes, and pressure from the Michigan community is building as well.