Kellogg’s revamps deforestation and palm oil policies after environmental protests

The global palm oil industry generates more than $50bn annually

The cereal giant first pledged to source 100% fully traceable palm oil in 2014, setting the deadline at the end of 2015. Since then, it has switched to 100% traceable palm oil worldwide, ensuring that all palm oil is sourced through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RPSO).

But critics, including NGOs Global Canopy, WWF and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), had taken issue with Kellogg’s’ decision to source some of its palm oil through credit schemes rather than from plantations with physical certifications.

Credits create an audit chain to prove that suppliers are engaging with responsible production techniques, or are used to “offset” unsustainable production by funding sustainable production elsewhere. Green campaigners have argued that this method of certification is less robust than sourcing from suppliers with physically certified palm oil, at a time when palm oil production is the leading cause of deforestation in Indonesia.

In response to this criticism, Kellogg’s published an update to its Global Palm Oil Strategy this week.

The updated strategy confirms that all palm oil used in products sold across Europe – excluding Russia – is from physically certified estates and plantations. It sets a 2025 deadline for the same sourcing requirements to be applied to palm oil used across Kellogg’s’ global product portfolio.

The launch of the strategy has also seen Kellogg’s begin publicly disclosing “all potential [palm oil] mills that may or may not be present within [its] supply chain at any given time, regardless of volume or potential frequency”. This list of mills can be found on the corporation’s website.

Broader action

Kellogg’s’ approach to palm oil has featured heavily in the UK news in recent months, after Bedfordshire-based sisters Asha and Jia Kirkpatrick – aged 10 and 12 – launched a campaign urging the company to set stricter sustainability targets around the commodity.

More than 780,000 people signed the sisters’ petition.

A Kellogg’s spokesperson told edie that although Kellogg’s uses a very small amount of palm oil globally, [it has] been working since 2009 to improve its sustainability.” Indeed, larger proportions of the corporation’s global forest footprint are accounted for by its use of paper and card-based packaging and its sourcing of soy.

To that end, the update to the Global Palm Oil Strategy was complemented by the launch of Kellogg’s’ first Global Deforestation Policy.

The Policy states that Kellogg’s will develop a “Protect, Restore and Fund” framework to “deliver nature-based solutions that take into account both environmental and social elements at the global and local level”.

On paper and card, the Policy commits Kellogg’s to continuing to use only materials that are certified as recycled or from sustainable sources through bodies such as the FSC. In order to further improve its footprint here, the firm has said it will “prioritise” certification schemes approved by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) while urging all suppliers to collect and disclose more robust environmental data. This data should be used not only by Kellogg’s, but to drive change at a “regional and jurisdictional level”, the Policy states.

As for soy, the Policy re-iterates that 97% of the soy used by Kellogg’s in 2018 originated from low-risk markets. Much of the remaining 3% was sourced from regions across the Brazilian Amazon. On this soy, the Policy states that Kellogg’s will only source from suppliers complying with the Brazilian Forest Code.

Across its entire soy portfolio, the firm has said it will “continue to push suppliers to provide more and better traceability data to verify that their operations are neither directly or indirectly associated with illegal deforestation activities” and “implement strategies that support or incentivize sustainable soy production and avoided land-use change”.

However, the Policy stops short of setting any time-bound numerical targets for soy.

Those interested in learning more about sustainability certification schemes are urged to read edie’s exclusive guest blogs on the topic:

Sarah George

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