Cargill, the largest importer of palm oil into the United States and one of the world’s largest commodities traders and a palm oil producer itself, committed to a “Policy on Sustainable Palm Oil” in response to pressure from Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and other NGOs as well as consumers around the world.
Bustar Maitar, global head of the Indonesia forest campaign at Greenpeace International said: “This policy commits Cargill to ending its role in deforestation, peat destruction and social exploitation, reflecting the pressure coming from consumer companies like P&G, Unilever, Nestlé and others who are acting to cut deforestation from their supply chains. However, while a good policy is a crucial step, only its credible implementation will bring real change to the palm oil industry”
Cargill’s commitment comes on the heels of the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto (SPOM) announcement earlier this month. While a number of the big palm oil producers that are part of SPOM held off on real commitments to end deforestation, Cargill’s policy is explicit in its pledge to implement the already established High Carbon Stock Approach— as pioneered by Golden Agri-Resources, The Forest Trust and Greenpeace. This is a critical step to ensure that Cargill’s supply chain will break its links to deforestation.
“This policy is a step in the right direction, but clearer targets are needed for compliance, along with a plan for independent verification” added Maitar. “In its current form this is a considerably weaker policy than the one announced last year by Cargill’s competitor, Wilmar.”
Additional shortcomings include Cargill’s lack of protection for food security, including local control and diversity of food production; and silence on if and how this policy will apply to any future plantations Cargill acquires. Greenpeace will continue to critically monitor the action plan Cargill is expected to announce at the end of the year, which must include details of how it will put this policy into practice worldwide, including strict implementation deadlines.
“According to the findings of a recent study published by a science journal, the rate of deforestation in Indonesia is now the highest in the world, surpassing Brazil’s” he added. “Palm oil, which is now expanding to threaten forests and local communities in Africa, can bring prosperity and benefits, but only if it’s done respecting the forests and communities that depend on it.”