Nestlé drives rainforest destruction pushing orangutans to brink of extinction

Media release - March 17, 2010
A new Greenpeace report (1) reveals Nestlé is using palm oil from destroyed Indonesian rainforests and peatlands in popular products like Nestlé Crunch, CoffeeMate, and PowerBar (2), pushing already endangered orangutans to the brink of extinction and accelerating climate change.

The new Greenpeace report, "Caught Red-Handed: How Nestlé Use of Palm Oil is Destroying Rainforests and the Climate" exposes how Nestlé is sourcing palm oil from suppliers, which continue to expand into virgin rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands, including habitat critical for endangered orangutans. Nestlé suppliers include the controversial Sinar Mas group, Indonesia's largest producer of palm oil.

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

"Every time you take a bite out of a PowerBar, you may be taking a bite out of Indonesia's rainforests, which are critical for the orangutan's survival. Nestlé needs to stop using palm oil from suppliers that are destroying rainforests and polluting the climate," said Rolf Skar, Greenpeace senior campaigner.

The report launch and actions 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 the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an industry body that claims to be making the palm oil industry more sustainable. Evidence shows Sinar Mas's forest and peatland destruction continues unabated. (4)

In the face of its unacceptable environmental practices, several major companies, including Unilever and Kraft, have cancelled their contracts with the group. (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," said Skar.

The expansion of palm oil plantations is a leading cause of deforestation in Indonesia, a country with one of the worst rates of forest destruction on the planet.(6) Due mainly to forest and peatland conversion, Indonesia ranks third behind only China and the U.S. as the world's largest greenhouse gas polluter.(7)

VVPR info: Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace press officer, 510 501 1779; Rolf Skar, Greenpeace senior campaigner, 415 533 2888; FOR PHOTOS AND FOOTAGE CONTACT: For photos contact John Novis, Greenpeace International photo desk, +44 7801 615 889 For video footage contact Maarten Van Rouveroy, Greenpeace International video desk, +31 646 197322

Notes: (1) Caught Red-Handed: How Nestle's Use of Palm Oil is Destroying Rainforests and the Climate at www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/greenpeace-report-links-nestle-to-rainforest-destruction031710 (2) Globally, KIT KAT is one of the best-known Nestlé products containing palm oil. In the U.S., KIT KAT is a licensed to Hershey Foods Corporation through an original licensing agreement executed with Rowntree Products in 1969. In 1988, Nestlé purchased Rowntree and exercises the KIT KAT product worldwide. The Greenpeace report “Caught Red-Handed: How Nestlé Use of Palm Oil is Destroying Rainforests and the Climate” does not examine Hershey Foods Corporation palm oil sourcing. (3) In communication with Nestlé October 2007, Nestlé admitted to using 170,000 tons of palm based oil. According to Nestlé, by February 2010, its use had risen to 320,000 tons. See Nestlé response to BBC Panorama questionnaire sent to major food manufactures in the UK, in connection to its program “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 (7) WRI 2008. Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) Version 6.0 (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute) http://cait.wri.org

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