A new report by US-based environmental group, Rainforest Action Network (RAN), has claimed that illegally sourced palm oil has entered the supply chains of major consumer brands including Unilever and Nestlé, despite public commitments made by the companies to halt sourcing from suppliers destroying rainforests and peatlands for new palm oil plantations.
RAN conducted a series of investigations in 2019 and have discovered that palm oil is being grown illegally in a privately-owned plantation on Sumatra island. The plantation is located inside the Leuser Ecyosystem’s Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve, a high-priority conservation area which provides critical habitat for endangered animals, and more specifically is home to the densest populations of orangutans to be found in the world.
According to RAN, two mills were identified to be processing the illegal palm oil fruit and were publicly listed as suppliers to Asia-based palm oil traders Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) and Musim Mas Group. Both traders sell and distribute oil to major consumer brands in over 100 countries worldwide.
The companies listed include Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mondelēz, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars and Hershey’s, who are therefore at risk of using illegal palm oil in the manufacture of its snack foods, despite adopting policies to end deforestation in their supply chains.
RAN has demanded that these companies immediately suspend sourcing from the palm oil mills that have been exposed in connection with destruction of the Indonesian rainforest and to publish them on a blacklist. The environmental organisation insists that the companies only resume sourcing from these mills when no deforestation, no peatland and no exploitation policies are implemented, and transparent and verifiable monitoring, traceability and compliance systems are in place.
The report, Leuser Watch: The last of the Leuser lowlands also exposed global banks, who are financing major palm oil traders in the Indonesian region.
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