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FACTBOX-Can global corporations meet 2020 no-deforestation pledge?

by Michael Taylor | @MickSTaylor | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 15 November 2019 14:30 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Different brands of chocolate bars are stored in racks at a supermarket in Quezon City, metro Manila, Philippines, April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao

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The Thomson Reuters Foundation asked international companies that make consumer goods for an update on their progress

(Updates with fresh information & comment from Kellogg Co)

By Michael Taylor

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After becoming a target for high-profile campaigns against tropical forest loss by environmentalists, global household brands that buy and use palm oil agreed in 2010 to ensure their supplies did not contribute to deforestation within a decade.

The 400 members of the Paris-based Consumer Goods Forum said they would purchase only sustainably produced commodities including palm oil, soy, paper and pulp, and beef.

The landmark pledge did not specify whether the deadline should be January or December of 2020, and allowed each firm to set its own precise dates to reach the goal.

INTERVIEW-Brands urged to think bigger on saving forests as 2020 goal looms

The Thomson Reuters Foundation asked 12 multinational CGF members over the past month if they were sticking to the 2020 pledge to halt deforestation and whether it would be met.

Five indicated the 2020 deadline would likely be missed, while at least four others did not say whether it would be achieved.

Here are responses from the companies:

1. CARGILL INC: In June, commodities trader Cargill said it, and the broader food industry, would fail to meet the goal of eliminating deforestation by 2020 and pledged to do more to protect forests and native vegetation in Brazil.

A spokeswoman said last month that Cargill remained committed to delivering a fully transparent, traceable and sustainable palm oil supply chain by 2020.

2. DANONE: In its latest palm oil update, the French food group said it was committed to eliminating deforestation from its supply chain by the end of 2020.

The company is working with green group Earthworm and has put in place a traceability system allowing it to map its supply chain each year.

3. FERRERO: The Italian confectioner met its target of using 100% sustainable certified palm oil in all its products in January 2015, a spokesperson said.

Ferrero's palm oil charter also states the company is committed to ensuring its suppliers do not use fire to clear land or plant palm on peatland, and that they respect human and labour rights.

4. GENERAL MILLS INC: The Cheerios cereal-maker said it achieved its goal to source 100% of its palm oil from responsible and sustainable sources in 2015.

In 2018, the company made public its global palm oil suppliers' list which is updated each year.

5. JOHNSON & JOHNSON: The U.S. healthcare conglomerate's responsible palm oil-sourcing criteria  stresses the importance of social and environmental responsibility, and transparency.

It said it was committed to implementing those criteria across its top palm oil suppliers "representing at least 85 percent of our volume by year-end 2020".

6. KELLOGG CO: The company is a small user of ingredients and materials that have high deforestation risks, said Amy Senter, its chief sustainability officer.

"Progress has been made since the CGF deforestation resolution was passed in 2010, but like others, we will fall short of the deforestation goal," she said.

"We are actively applying the learnings over the past decade toward strategic shifts in supply chain engagement and collaborative, holistic partnerships," she added.

The breakfast-foods and snack-maker's website says it is "committed to help achieve zero net deforestation from tropical forests" and 99% of its palm oil purchases are from sustainably certified suppliers.

7. MARS: In a policy, the chocolate-maker says it aims to "deliver 100% deforestation-free palm oil by the end of 2020", according to a spokeswoman.

The policy states that Mars plans to simplify and verify its supply chain by reducing the number of its supplier mills from more than 1,500 to less than 100 by the end of next year.

8. MONDELEZ INTERNATIONAL: Since 2014, the snack-maker has required its palm oil suppliers to convert their entire supply chains - regardless of the end customer - to sustainable practices, said Christine Montenegro McGrath, its chief of global impact, sustainability and well-being.

The company supports and encourages the sector-wide approach being pioneered by the CGF, she added, but did not provide details on whether Mondelez would meet the 2020 pledge.

In a statement on its website, the firm said one of its goals was to "maintain 100% RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) palm oil (and) 100% palm oil traceable to the mill from suppliers with aligned policies".

9. NESTLE: The food giant, which makes KitKat bars and Haagen-Dazs ice cream, said in September it would likely fall short of the 2020 target.

By April, 77% of key agricultural commodities the company buys - including soy and palm oil - were verified as deforestation-free, a spokeswoman said, adding this would top 90% by the end of 2020.

To stamp out deforestation along its supply chain, Nestle uses a combination of certification, supply chain mapping, on-the-ground verification and satellite surveillance, she added.

Nestle would continue to work with smallholder farmers and large suppliers to get close to being entirely free of deforestation within the next three years, she said, citing the company's no-deforestation commitment .

10. PEPSICO INC: The beverage and snack maker's global policy on sustainable palm oil includes goals for no deforestation or peatland development and achieving 100% RSPO certified sustainable palm oil by the end of 2020, a spokeswoman said.

11. PROCTER & GAMBLE CO: The personal care products maker, which uses palm oil in its Tide detergent and Olay skincare lines, said in September it would fail to meet the zero deforestation goal by next year.

"We have met our commitment to get to 100% RSPO certified palm oil and ensuring 100% certified virgin wood pulp in our tissue towel products," a company spokeswoman said, citing the latest report.

12. UNILEVER: The consumer goods giant's 2020 commitments have not changed, said a spokeswoman, citing two company reports on sustainable palm oil. The firm was "on track" to meet next year's deadline, she added.

"We're the world's largest single buyer of palm oil – purchasing 3% of global production each year – so we're focusing on playing a leadership role in breaking the link between palm oil production and deforestation," the company's website says.

(Reporting by Michael Taylor @MickSTaylor; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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