In the very first high-level meeting between Greenpeace and Fonterra, Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings told me on Friday that Fonterra does not want to be implicated in deforestation in Indonesia.

This is real progress and it was really encouraging to hear us both speaking the same language on this issue, at last.

But to achieve it Fonterra is going to have to stop buying cattle feed linked to rainforest destruction in Indonesia.

Oil Palm Saplings on Burned Land in Central Kalimantan

For many years Greenpeace has demanded that Fonterra stop using palm products linked to deforestation and peat drainage. When we initially challenged Fonterra on the role they could be playing in the fires in Indonesia, described as the worst environmental catastrophe this century, Mr Spierings refused even to meet with us.

But then a few weeks ago when a Greenpeace report exposed the link between Fonterra’s main supplier of palm kernel expeller (PKE) and forest destruction, he could no longer ignore the evidence.

The Greenpeace team that met with Fonterra included New Zealander Grant Rosoman, our Indonesian forests expert who spends much of his time leading investigations in the field. Grant outlined how Fonterra’s industrial dairying, fuelled by unsustainable PKE, was causing climate pollution from deforestation and forest fires as well as driving endangered species like the orang-utan to the brink of extinction.

There’s still a way to go for Fonterra to get deforestation out of their feed supply and right now they seem committed to doing so, but we’ll keep holding their feet to the fire until we see real action.

And although we now have a potential breakthrough with PKE, there remains the issue of Fonterra’s industrial dairying model that’s polluting our rivers, compacting our soils and threatening our stable climate.