Palm Oil Case Study: How Consumer Activism Led The Push For Sustainable Sourcing

    • Catalyst
    • Summary
    • Palm oil is used in a variety of consumer packaged goods, but its use is controversial due to sustainability issues
      • Palm oil use has increased in packaged goods due to a range of perceived benefits
      • Claims that palm oil causes deforestation and high carbon emissions have fueled stakeholder criticism
    • Pressure groups have sought to heighten consumer awareness of the negatives of palm oil and encourage more sustainable production
      • Greenpeace has campaigned directly at companies it believes are encouraging unsustainable oil palm production
      • WWF has produced a Palm Oil Buyer’s Scorecard to expose companies with poor buying policies
      • Rainforest Action Network targets both the corporate suppliers and customers of palm oil
      • Consumer packaged goods companies have responded to heightened awareness by introducing a sustainable certifying scheme
      • The response of national governments has also intensified
      • Consumer interest in palm oil production is indicative of heightened interest in ethical and environmental issues in general
      • Expansion of palm oil production has been partly attributed to agribusiness giants Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill
    • Industry players have undertaken various measures to respond to palm oil concerns
      • Ethical retailers and producers have been proactive in developing relevant palm oil policies
      • Other global FMCG players are actively reviewing their palm oil policies in response to pressure group criticism
    • Conclusions and implications
    • Case study series
    • Methodology
    • Secondary sources
    • Further reading
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    • Datamonitor consulting
    • Disclaimer
    • Table: Leading categories in launches containing palm oil, 2009–10
    • Table: Leading companies that launched products containing palm oil, 2009-10
    • Figure: Growing use of palm oil in the commercial food industry is buoyed by its lower cost and the high oxidative stability of the refined product when used for frying
    • Figure: Palm oil-driven deforestation has accelerated in Indonesia and Malaysia
    • Figure: The number of new products containing palm oil has grown substantially over the past five years
    • Figure: Palm oil and associated corporations have suffered considerable criticism in the media for their purported role in environmental destruction
    • Figure: The RSPO aims to engage all stakeholders in multilateral discussions on sustainable palm oil
    • Figure: The new RSPO logo must contend with the high number of other "green" logos vying for consumer recognition
    • Figure: Concerns about the loss of species and habitat are particularly pronounced in Brazil and Mexico, which is consistent with elevated environmental concerns in these countries
    • Figure: Individual carbon footprint has become more important to nearly half of global consumers
    • Figure: Consumers have demonstrated a growing interest in ingredient specifics, driven by their intensifying health and environmental consciousness
    • Figure: In May 2010, members of Rainforest Alliance Network occupied the suburban Minneapolis executive offices of Cargill to protest about the alleged destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests
    • Figure: Lush is to phase out the use of palm oil in its products and has developed a palm oil-free soap to highlight the environmental consequences of its production
    • Figure: Greenpeace successfully campaigned for Unilever to switch to more ethical palm oil suppliers
    • Figure: Nestlé's Facebook page was targeted by palm oil protesters, which helped to change the company's palm oil policies

Company Report

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Published on
11 Jan 2011
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