The company, which has drawn up new responsible sourcing guidelines for palm oil with The Forest Trust (TFT), said its actions would “focus on the systematic identification and exclusion of companies owning or managing high risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation”.
Under a new partnership agreement with TFT, Nestlé has agreed that from now on, all of its purchases will come from plantations and farms operating in compliance with local laws and regulations; that it will protect high conservation value forest areas; and that it will protect peatlands and forest areas of ‘high carbon’ value.
It has also agreed to conduct field audits of existing suppliers to determine their performance against the guidelines, exclude those in breach and implement technical assistance programs to support those ‘willing to proceed to sustainability'.
The move follows a high-profile campaign from Greenpeace, which has been targeting Nestlé through a controversial series of ads linking KitKat bars with deforestation in Indonesia (see picture, above).
It also claimed that Nestlé sourced some of its palm oil from Sinar Mas Group, a firm it accused of "persistent and widespread illegal deforestation".
Nestlé said that it had sought assurances from Cargill (from whom it buys some of its palm oil) about the integrity of its palm oil supply chain, while Cargill in turn promised to delist Sinar Mas if it did not address satisfactorily the claims made by Greenpeace.
Following a detailed review of its supply chain, Nestlé recently made a commitment to using only certified sustainable palm oil by 2015. In the interim period, it has agreed to buy GreenPalm certificates to cover its palm oil usage.
Greenpeace welcomed today’s agreement and said it would now focus its attention on HSBC for funding Sinar Mas.
Ian Duff, forest campaigner for Greenpeace, said: “Nestle has now done the right thing and announced that it will drop suppliers that are linked to rainforest destruction."
He added: “But there are still many other companies that are peddling well-known goods that are linked to rainforest destruction.They should follow Nestle’s example and do their bit for the orangutans.”