World-famous cake mix Betty Crocker linked to rainforest destruction

Press release - 1 June, 2016
Jakarta, 1 June 2016 - Betty Crocker, a leading instant cake and baking mix brand owned by US based food company General Mills, is sourcing palm oil from a company responsible for the destruction of rainforest and orangutan habitat in Indonesia.

General Mills is one of the biggest food manufacturers in the world.[1] It owns Häagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Yoplait and many American-style cereal brands including Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Grahams and Lucky Charms.

One of General Mills’s palm oil suppliers is IOI, a notorious company with plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia. Greenpeace first exposed IOI’s destruction of forests and orangutan habitat in the 2008 report Burning up Borneo.[2] Since then, IOI has been accused of various scandals, including land grabbing, bad labour practices, forest fires and deforestation.[3]

Greenpeace Indonesia is calling for General Mills to follow the example of other major brands and cancel their contracts with IOI.

“When you’re baking, you really care about what goes into your cakes. Forest destruction isn’t a popular ingredient, so why is General Mills spoiling Betty Crocker’s cakes with palm oil from rainforest destroyers IOI?,” said Annisa Rahmawati, forests campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia.

After the forest fires crisis in 2015, Indonesia’s palm oil industry has been under growing pressure to end destruction of rainforests and peatlands. In November, the Indonesian government sanctioned IOI following a major outbreak of fire in one of its concessions in West Kalimantan.

In April 2016, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an industry body tasked with making palm oil production sustainable, suspended IOI for deforestation.[4] Instead of making sweeping changes, IOI responded with a court case against the RSPO in Geneva.[5]

Following its suspension, major brands such as Unilever, Nestle, Mars, Mondelez (Cadbury), Kellogg and Colgate-Palmolive all severed their ties with IOI. In a statement, General Mills said that it was ‘committed to sustainably sourcing palm oil’ but continues to buy from IOI.[6]

“Companies know that their customers want to enjoy baking cupcakes without burning rainforests. That’s why so many other major brands have done the right thing and stopped buying palm oil from IOI. General Mills’s failure to act leaves a bad taste in the mouth,” said Annisa.


Notes to editors:

[1] Many General Mills products contain palm oil: Jus-Rol ready-made pastry, some varieties of Nature Valley snack bars, and some flavours of Häagen-Dazs (depending on place of manufacture). It is also an ingredient in their Betty Crocker cake mixes, frosting and icing.

[2] Greenpeace International report, How Unilever Palm Oil Suppliers are Burning Up Borneo

[3] Friends of the Earth report: Too Green To Be True (2011)

Finnwatch report: The Law of the Jungle (2014).

Greenpeace report: Under Fire (2015)

[4] Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Notice to RSPO Members on the Suspension of IOI Group’s certification

[5] The Guardian article on IOI suing the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil over membership suspension

[6] General Mills’ palm oil statement - here

Photos of IOI concessions being cleared and planted, forest fires, orangutans and a delicious cake, are available to download here -

Media contacts:

Annisa Rahmawati, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia, mobile: +62 8111097527

Igor O'Neill, International Media for Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaign, , mobile +62 811 1923 721

Greenpeace International Press Desk, , phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)