Kellogg’s to Back All Palm Oil With Green Certificates, in Industry First

by | Mar 4, 2011

Kellogg Company has become the first U.S. food company to back 100 percent of its global palm oil use with certificates designed to reduce deforestation.

The cereal maker is buying GreenPalm certificates covering all of its global palm oil use. GreenPalm is a certificate trading program, endorsed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), that seeks to increase sustainability while circumventing the complexity of the palm oil production process.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) applauded the certificate purchase.

“By supporting sustainable production in this way, Kellogg is demonstrating just the sort of responsible action that we want others to take,” said WWF senior vice president Jason W. Clay. “As the first in the U.S. food industry to take this step, they’re setting an example for others to follow.”

Because palm oil supplies from different plantations, mills and even different countries are mingled at every stage of the commodity’s production and delivery, it is impossible to know the exact circumstances of a given batch’s production, GreenPalm says. Physically segregating the oil adds cost at every stage of production, the organization argues.

GreenPalm therefore awards one certificate for each ton of sustainable palm oil registered and produced by RSPO-certified producers. The palm oil makers put the certificates up for sale on GreenPalm’s web-based trading platform. Manufacturers and retailers can then bid to buy the certificates online.

In addition to the certificate purchases, Kellogg’s said it is also encouraging its blended palm oil suppliers to continue to increase the percentage of sustainable palm oil in the supplies they purchase. The company will require all vendor partners to commit to reducing their environmental impact through a Supplier Code of Conduct, and will support the Consumer Goods Forum pledge to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020.

“While palm oil is a very small percentage of our total ingredients, as a socially responsible company, concerns about the sustainable production of palm oil are clearly on our radar screen,” said Kellogg’s chief sustainability officer Celeste A. Clark.

Kellogg Company uses about 0.1 percent of the world’s supply of palm oil.

Kellogg’s said that it intends to eventually purchase sustainable palm oil, but that a large enough and consistent enough supply is not currently available outside of Europe, so such a move is not now logistically or financially feasible. It adds that the form of palm oil Kellogg uses in Europe is also not available in a sustainable supply.

“We are committed to conducting our business in a way that reduces our environmental impact and will continue diligently working with others to explore solutions to this global issue,” Clark said. “We intend to continue this commitment until we are able to purchase a segregated supply of sustainably grown palm oil.”

Palm oil production has come under heavy fire for destroying rainforests and peatland across southeast Asia, leading to habitat destruction and high carbon emissions.

Nestle, Unilever and Burger King have all cancelled contracts with major palm oil producer SMART in response to a Greenpeace campaign blasting the company’s allegedly unsustainable clearing of forests for palm oil groves.

Last month SMART parent Golden Agri-Resources Limited, part of the world’s second-largest palm oil company, agreed a standard for conservation of Indonesian forests and peatlands, according to non-profit The Forest Trust (TFT).

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