Nestlé drives rainforest destruction pushing orang-utans to brink of extinction

Greenpeace launches online viral exposing true cost of “having a break” the KitKat way

Press release - 17 March, 2010
Nestlé is using palm oil from destroyed Indonesian rainforests and peatlands, in products like KitKat, pushing already endangered orang-utans to the brink of extinction and accelerating climate change, a new Greenpeace report reveals. (1)

The damning new Greenpeace report, ' Caught Red-Handed', exposes how Nestlé is sourcing palm oil from suppliers, including Sinar Mas, Indonesia's largest producer of palm oil, which continue to expand into the rainforest and carbon-rich peatlands, as well as into critical orang-utan habitat. Sinar Mas also owns Asia Pulp and Paper, Indonesia's largest pulp and paper company, notorious for its role in rainforest destruction.

This morning, protests are taking place across Europe as around 100 Greenpeace activists, some dressed as orang-utans, went to Nestlé's headquarters and factories in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. They are calling on Nestlé staff to urge the company to stop using palm oil that's the result of forest destruction. (2)

At 12.00pm CET/11.00am UK Greenpeace launches its 'Have a Break?' video, showing what a KitKat break really means. The link goes live at 12.00pm CET at www.greenpeace.org/kitkat

Nestlé, the world's leading food and drinks company, is a major consumer of palm oil. In the last three years, its annual use has almost doubled, with 320,000 tonnes of palm oil going into a range of products, including KitKat. (3)

"Every time you take a bite out of a KitKat, you may be taking a bite out of Indonesia's rainforests, which are critical for the orang-utan's survival. Nestlé needs to give the orang-utan a break and stop using palm oil from suppliers that are destroying the rainforests," said Daniela Montalto, Greenpeace International campaigner.

The report's launch follows numerous attempts to persuade Nestlé to cancel its contracts with Sinar Mas. Most recently, in December, Greenpeace wrote to Nestlé with evidence that Sinar Mas is breaking Indonesian law and ignoring its commitments as a member of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the industry body that claims to be making the palm oil industry more sustainable. But evidence shows Sinar Mas's forest destruction continues. (4)

In the face of its unacceptable environmental practices, several major companies, including Unilever and Kraft, have cancelled their palm oil contracts with the company. (5)

"Other big companies are taking action, but Nestlé continues to turn a blind eye to the worst offenders which supply them, it's time for Nestlé to cancel its Sinar Mas contracts and support a halt to rainforest and peatland destruction," stressed Montalto.

Indonesia has one of the fastest rates of forest destruction on the planet, with palm oil plantations being a major cause. As a result, it is now the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter, after China and the US. (6)

Other contacts: Daniela Montalto, Greenpeace International forest campaigner, tel: +31 646 162 033 Beth Herzfeld, Greenpeace International communications, tel: +44 (0) 7717 802 891

VVPR info: For photos contact John Novis, Greenpeace International photo desk, +44 7801 615 889For video footage contact Maarten Van Rouveroy, Greenpeace International video desk, +31 646 197322

Notes: (1) Caught Red-Handed: How Nestlé’s Use of Palm Oil is Having a Devastating Impact on Rainforest, The Climate and Orang-utans at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/caught-red-handed-how-nestleNOTE: Globally, KitKat is one of the best-known Nestlé products containing palm oil. In the United States, KitKat is a licensed to Hershey Foods Corporation through an original agreement executed with Rowntree Products in 1969. In 1988, Nestlé purchased Rowntree and markets KitKat products worldwide outside of the United States. The Greenpeace report does not examine Hershey Foods Corporation’s palm oil sourcing. (2) Protests are being held at Nestlé London headquarters in Croydon, Amsterdam and Frankfurt headquarters and seven Nestlé factories across Germany.(3) In communication with Nestlé October 2007, it admitted to using 170,000 tonnes of palm based oil. By February 2010, it said its use had risen to 320,000 tonnes. See Nestlé response to BBC Panorama questionnaire sent to major food manufactures in the UK, in connection to its programme “Dying for a biscuit”, 22 February 2010: http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/panorama_nestle.pdf.(4) Illegal forest clearance and RSPO greenwash: Case study of Sinar Mas at http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/files/pdfs/forests/sinarmasRSPOgreenwash.pdf and photographic evidence of Sinar Mas subsidiary PT. Agro Lestari Mandiri clearing forest in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, 9 March 2010. (5) Unilever cancelled its $30 million (21 million euros) annual contract in 2009, see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6952288.ece Kraft announced the cancellation of its contract with Sinar Mas in a letter to Greenpeace, 16 February 2010. Both moves followed Greenpeace evidence of Sinar Mas’s environmental destruction. (6) FAO 2005. Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2005. http://www.fao.org/forestry/site/fra2005/en/ ; on palm oil: www.unep.org/grasp/docs/2007Jan-LastStand-of-Orangutan-report.pdf and on climate: WRI 2008. Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) Version 6.0 (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute) http://cait.wri.org