I called Nestlé up last week as part of our Kit Kat call action and spoke with a very friendly and polite man named *Bob about their palm oil policy.
I told Bob that despite Nestlé's announcement that it would cancel contracts with Indonesian palm oil supplier Sinar Mas it would still be using Sinar Mas palm oil through other suppliers – like Cargill – who will continue to buy from Sinar Mas and sell to Nestlé. In short – Nestlé will continue to use palm oil from destroyed rainforests and peatlands in its products. This was not acceptable – which should have been clear to Nestlé and Bob from the response of the public on Nestlé's Facebook page and other online forums.
Bob was very sympathetic. He assured me that Nestlé was very concerned with what was happening to the 'rainforests and peatfields of Southeast Asia'. He told me that my concerns would definitely be 'passed on to the corporate office' and asked if I would like to be read a prepared statement on Nestlé's palm oil policy to set my mind at ease?
I did want to hear the statement – and ten minutes later I had been read – by Bob – basically the same statements included here in Nestlé's 'Statement on palm oil', and the same ones that Nestlé has been giving people who have e-mailed them (127.000 e-mails sent and growing). I didn't feel very at ease after hearing it.
Bob told me that Nestlé was working hard to ensure that they were not using palm oil from unsustainable sources – but that this, of course, took time.
But Bob - Nestlé has had years to investigate and cleanse its palm oil supply chain. Greenpeace has been in contact with Nestlé repeatedly with evidence that their supply chain contains palm oil from rainforest destruction and just last April we received a letter from Nestle saying it had undertaken a “detailed review”. Now is not the time for further delays – now is the time to act on the “verifiable facts” on its palm oil sources Nestlé claims to have already identified in that letter.
Next, before I had even mentioned APP (Asia Pulp and Paper – a subsidiary of Sinar Mas) Bob confidently announced that Nestlé was definitely not buying any paper or other products from APP. And I told Bob that Nestlé cannot confirm that it does not buy from APP indirectly through other suppliers - and therefore should not be making statements if it cannot or has not provided the evidence to back them up.
Bob himself did sound pretty genuinely concerned about the rainforests, and the orangutans, and the impacts of destroying rainforests and peatlands for palm oil – which includes carbon emissions contributing to climate change, habitat destruction, and ruining the livelihoods of local people. But when he told me again how concerned Nestlé was about this – I had to stop him.
If Nestlé is so genuinely concerned about Indonesia's rainforests – then why doesn't Nestlé publicly support a moratorium on deforestation in Indonesia? Why doesn't Nestlé work with the Indonesian government and the palm oil industry to protect rainforests and peatlands?
Nestlé is the largest food and drinks company in the world. It has the power – and the responsibility to act immediately on this issue to the benefit of Indonesia's rainforests and peatlands - and those whom depend on them for survival. The general public and Nestlé's own customers are asking for action and instead Nestlé is reading them prepared statements. A prepared statement is not genuine concern. It is also not action – it is just words.
I asked Bob if he would also pass that along to corporate? And he assured me – very happily – that he would. I wonder how much longer it will take for all of our messages to get through to 'corporate'?
What can you do?
Send an e-mail to Nestlé's CEO and Chairman of the Board. If you already have - ask your friends and family to join in.
Call Nestlé - and make clear that The Prepared Palm Oil Statement is not good enough.
Tweet this campaign.
Share this campaign on Facebook.
See what others are doing online to support the campaign.
[*I changed Bob's name - he was actually very friendly about the whole thing. Thanks, Bob.]
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