Palm Oil Giant IOI Announces Zero-Deforestation Policy

The official Forest Heroes press release:

Over three quarters of global palm oil now covered by deforestation-free sourcing policies; Forest Heroes calls on rogue companies to join

image_asset_9419CHICAGO, IL – Three quarters of the world’s palm oil is now covered by zero-deforestation sourcing requirements, following a palm oil policy announced today by edible oil giant IOI Loders Croklaan. The company trades 10 to 15 percent of the world’s palm oil.

“IOI’s move signals that palm oil companies who engage in deforestation really have nowhere left to go,” said Forest Heroes Chairman Glenn Hurowitz, who led negotiations with IOI in London, Malaysia, and the United States. “There’s no longer any excuse for responsible consumer companies to purchase from rogue actors like Sime Darby or Musim Mas that continue to destroy rainforests.”  

Although they praised IOI’s move, advocates said that given the company’s recent history of deforestation and serious labor and human rights issues, they would be closely scrutinizing implementation efforts.

“This can’t just be a policy on paper,” said Forest Heroes Director Deborah Lapidus. “Given IOI’s record, they need to move rapidly to make their supply chain transparent, address serious human rights issues, and secure participation from a credible implementation partner. While we welcome IOI’s commitment to apply the new policy to IOI Group, third party suppliers and subsidiaries, we urge IOI Group to formally adopt the zero-deforestation policy right away.”

IOI Loders Croklaan’s commitment follows similar policies from fellow palm oil traders Wilmar International (~45% of global trade), Golden Agri-Resources (~10%), Cargill (~5%) and Bunge (~2%) over the past year. Today’s announcement follows a year of campaigning by Forest Heroes and its allies:

  • In November 2013, Forest Heroes joined Friends of the Earth in publishing the Commodity Crimes report, which revealed that IOI had joined palm oil supplier Bumitama to clear areas of ultra-carbon rich peatlands and orangutan habitat in Borneo.
  • In June, Forest Heroes targeted major players in the doughnut industry, including Dunkin’ Brands, Krispy Kreme and Tim Hortons that all fry their products in palm oil – as part of an effort to reach doughnut oil suppliers including IOI Loders Croklaan. The campaign included actions outside Krispy Kreme storefronts that highlighted deforestation connected to IOI (see amazing photo). With today’s announcement, all of the companies identified in the landmark Deforestation Doughnuts report have committed to zero-deforestation sourcing.
  • In August, Forest Heroes launched an online campaign that named IOI “the worst company you’ve never heard of” and conducted aggressive global outreach to IOI’s 50 top customers and investors to share pictures of deforestation from their operations in Borneo.

Immediately following the announcement, Forest Heroes reclassified IOI Loders Croklaan from the Red to Yellow List in its Green Tigers guide to palm oil suppliers, and said the company may be improved further following implementation and effective governance.

In addition, Forest Heroes sent letters to its network of consumer companies and investors to update them on IOI’s policy and calling on them to shift their buying practices to responsible suppliers.

“Consumer companies now have many choices for deforestation-free palm oil sources,” said Lapidus. “We’re counting on brand-name companies to continue their commitments to real forest protection by only doing business with those suppliers who are taking serious steps for conservation.”

On November 13, 2014
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