February 20, 2014
Kellogg's Commits to Deforestation-Free Palm Oil
by Robert Kropp
Green Century Capital Management withdraws shareowner resolution after the food processing company
agrees to source only deforestation-free palm oil by next year.
In its recently published 2014 Proxy Resolutions and
Voting Guide, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) noted that “it is common
for a wide variety of resolutions to cite human rights risks.”
“Sustainable palm oil
sourcing resolutions which include references to trafficking and slavery violations within the palm
oil supply chain are treated as environmental resolutions,” ICCR continued.
example of human rights concerns embedded in shareowner action on climate change can be found in a
resolution filed this year by Green Century
Capital Management, requesting that Kellogg's, one of the world's largest food processing
companies, commit to sourcing only deforestation-free palm oil.
“Globally, millions of
acres of rainforest are burned down every year to make room for palm oil plantations,” Green
Century states. “This not only destroys part of an already-stressed ecosystem and reduces habitat,
but also releases massive quantities of carbon dioxide stored in the trees and soil. Palm oil is
the most widely used vegetable oil, present in everything from cookies to shampoo.”
ounced this week that it has withdrawn the resolution after Kellogg's agreed to source only
deforestation-free palm oil, with a target date for doing so of December 31, 2015. Kellogg's
agreement, by which it will adhere to the following three principles, includes a commitment to
No deforestation: Suppliers must protect forests, endangered species
habitat, lands with high carbon content, and peatland of any depth, going beyond the inadequate
requirements of current roundtable-derived standards.
No exploitation: Suppliers are required
to protect human and community rights, including land tenure rights and obtaining Free, Prior, and
Informed Consent from communities to all development on their lands.
Traceability: Kellogg is
working with suppliers to achieve full traceability of its palm oil back to known plantation
“Kellogg’s had also urged its joint partner Wilmar — the world’s largest palm
oil trader, controlling over 45% of the global palm oil trade— to adopt its recently announced,
groundbreaking commitment to eliminating deforestation from its supply chain,” Green Century
stated. Earlier this year, following engagement led by Green Century and including 40 institutional
investors with more than $250 billion in assets under management, Wilmar adopted a forest
“Kellogg’s commitment to verifying that the palm oil it uses is not
linked to illegal and high risk deforestation provides critical protection for both shareholders
and the environment,” said Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century. “By directly engaging its
suppliers to tackle the urgent issue of rainforest destruction, Kellogg’s will ensure that its
values and reputation as a socially responsible company are upheld throughout its supply chain.”
“As a socially responsible company, traceable, transparent sourcing of palm oil is an
important concern, and we are collaborating with our suppliers to make sure the palm oil we use is
not associated with deforestation, climate change or the violation of human rights,” said Diane
Holdorf of Kellogg's.
Lucia von Reusner, Shareholder Advocate at Green Century, commended
Kellogg's for its “aggressive timeline;” yet, according to the 2013 Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard from WWF Global, “There are
no excuses for any company not to be using 100% sustainable palm oil right now.”