Norwegian consumer goods giant Orkla, which also owns Indian brand MTR Foods, has committed to using palm oil from sustainable sources in a move which Greenpeace says should coax other food majors to do similar.
“This policy covers one of the biggest palm oil buyers in the Nordic countries and is the first to cover a major brand originating in India,” said Erika Bjureby, head of the forest campaign at Greenpeace Nordic.
“People power is driving enormous change in the industry. This means there is now no place to hide for companies like Procter and Gamble, or local Indian brands like Godrej, which are failing to act on forest destruction.”
Improve or replace
Orkla’s policy recognises the need to go beyond the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s certification criteria, and aims to include full traceability down to plantation level by next year. The company has also included a commitment not buy any palm oil from unsustainable sources like cleared forests or peatlands by 2017, and has instructed its suppliers to protect the rights of their workers and local communities.
“We are committing ourselves to breaking the link between our products and deforestation. We have an ambition to help protect the rainforest. Wherever possible, therefore, we will replace palm oil with alternatives that are better from a health and environmental perspective,” said Orkla executive vice-president Håkon Mageli.
“Where it is impossible to replace the palm oil, we aim to buy only palm oil that is sustainably produced. All palm oil used in Orkla products shall be fully traceable to plantation level and produced according to sustainable principles by 2017 at the latest. To achieve this objective, we will set stringent requirements for our suppliers and use relevant certification schemes.”
By doing so, Orkla joins consumer companies such as Unilever, Nestlé, Mars and Ferrero, as well as producers GAR and Wilmar, plus companies in the Palm Oil Innovation Group.
That the company owns MTR Foods, which is well known in India for its spices, ready to eat meals, desserts and snacks, is a boost for Greenpeace, which has been trying to persuade more Indian companies to opt for sustainable palm oil sourcing.
“Emerging markets such as India are the new frontier for responsible palm oil and the key to achieving responsible sourcing of the commodity. Consumers here, just as anywhere else, must be guaranteed their products are free from deforestation,” said Areeba Hamid, India-based forest campaigner at Greenpeace International.