Unilever leads major brands in new palm oil coalition

Unilever is leading a coalition of multinational companies, believed to include Nestlé, Cadbury, Kraft and Procter & Gamble, to tackle the issue of sustainable palm oil production.

The coalition is being formed after talks with Greenpeace, which has been running a sustained campaign on the issue. It published a report last November that branded Unilever, Nestlé, P&G and Kraft as “climate vandals” for their part in the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforest and peat forest swamps to make way for palm oil plantations (MW November 8).

The new initiative will run alongside the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an industry body formed in 2002 to ensure sustainable production.

A Greenpeace report in April heavily criticised the RSPO, claiming that many of the companies involved in rainforest destruction were its key members. The lobby group accused Unilever, the world’s largest purchaser of palm oil and chair of the RSPO, of failing to lead the sector towards sustainability.

To coincide with the report, Greenpeace protesters dressed as orangutans and chained themselves to Unilever’s Merseyside headquarters and gathered at its London offices. The lobby group singled out Unilever brand Dove for criticism, with posters parodying the brand’s Campaign for Real Beauty.

Protesters also targeted Unilever marketing services agencies Ogilvy Advertising, Jackie Cooper PR and Lexis PR, in a bid to persuade them they were doing Unilever’s “dirty work” by “greenwashing” its brands (MW April 23).

It is understood that Unilever has accepted Greenpeace’s findings that the RSPO has not been effective.

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