WestSouthwest: Protesting Kellogg's involvement with Singapore company

Oct 30, 2013

Kellogg Company Headquarters - file photo
Credit WMUK

The group Forest Heroes has spent part of the fall calling for Kellogg to end its partnership with agribusiness corporation Wilmar International. 

WMUK's Gordon Evans spoke with Field Organizer Margaret Kran-Annextstein and Jez Vedua, a Battle Creek resident volunteering with the group. 

Forest Heroes says Wilmar's efforts to extract palm oil is damaging rain forests and endangering Sumatran Tigers. 

Both Kran-Annexstein and Vedua say Kellogg has a good reputation for social responsibility. They say the Battle Creek company should not  be working with a company like Wilmar which has been frequently criticized for its environmental practices. 

Below are e-mail responses from Kellogg and Wilmar.

Statement from Kellogg spokesperson Kris Charles:

“Kellogg fully supports a productive dialogue between Forest Heroes and Wilmar, and we'd be happy to introduce representatives of both organizations to one another.  
We use a very small percentage of the world's palm oil supply - and the vast majority of our cereals do not contain palm oil. All of the palm oil we use is 100 percent sustainably sourced through a combination of GreenPalm certificates, mass balance and segregated sustainably grown supply. We are actively working with all our suppliers and a number of multi-stakeholder organizations to help ensure a transparent supply of palm oil that is economically viable, environmentally appropriate and socially beneficial.”

Statement from Wilmar:

Wilmar International Ltd (Wilmar), Asia’s leading agribusiness group, categorically refutes allegations of deforestation and wildlife destruction made by environment groups. 
Wilmar is committed to developing and cultivating its plantations in a responsible and sustainable manner that looks into safeguarding the intrinsic value of the ecosystem, including endangered fauna like the orangutans and Sumatran tigers; while ensuring that socio-economic values are being created. Below are examples of its approach:
• We only operate on lands designated and licensed by the local governments for agriculture development. These lands are made up of degraded and logged-over secondary forests that have already lost their economic and environmental values. Converting these unproductive wastelands into productive plantations can help restore these values through implementation of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Principles and Criteria - an international best practice benchmark for sustainable palm oil development - that includes delineation and protection of High Conservation Value (HCV) areas where the HCV assessments are conducted prior to any land development activities. This standards framework has been the basis of our plantation development management since our participation in the RSPO in 2005.
• More than 60% of our plantations are already certified to RSPO standards, with our Malaysian plantations fully certified. We aim to complete certification for all our plantations and mills by 2016.
• In addition to its strict adherence to a zero-burn policy, Wilmar has in place a Sourcing Policy that guides us in our purchasing decisions and is communicated to suppliers so that they understand and meet our requirements. The policy clearly states, amongst other points, that Wilmar commits to buying palm oil that is produced from plantations and mills that comply with all relevant and applicable local and national law and regulations. This would include the burning of forests as prohibited by Indonesia’s law. Should they be found to be involved in burning to clear land for cultivation, we will discontinue our business relationship with them.
• Further to the RSPO standards, we do not develop on peat-land, regardless of depth.
• We have a tripartite collaboration with the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) on developing Best Management Practices (BMP) for orangutan conservation, with the aim to formulate the implementation of BMP in palm oil industry into a formal policy in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. This initiative is on-going.
• On the social front, our operations further help to promote local socioeconomic development through employment generation and community empowerment programmes such as provision of education and healthcare services.
Lastly, we wish to express our recognition of our stakeholders’ concerns over deforestation on tropical rainforests and peatlands as one of the most serious environmental issues facing the worldtoday; and we reaffirm our commitment towards sustainable palm oil development that strives for balance between environmental, social and economic interests.
We are always open to constructive dialogue with our stakeholders. To that end, we wrote to SumofUS in July expressing our interest in a further dialogue but regrettably we have yet to hear from them. Similarly with RAN, we look forward to a productive engagement.