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Palm oil supplier to food giants clears forest, peatland in Indonesia, Greenpeace says

  • The Yemen-based Hayel Saeed Anam Group, which sells palm oil to Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Unilever through subsidiaries, is responsible for clearing 40 square kilometers (15 square miles) of rainforest and peatland in Indonesia’s Papua province between 2015 and 2017, according to Greenpeace.
  • Staff from the environmental organization shot video revealing the extent of the destruction.
  • Greenpeace campaigners have raised concerns that Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever are not upholding their commitments to get rid of deforestation, peatland destruction and exploitation from their supply chains.

Greenpeace has released video evidence that a palm oil supplier for several major food companies has destroyed rainforest in Indonesia.

Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever have all purchased palm oil from subsidiaries of the Yemen-based Hayel Saeed Anam Group, according to the companies’ disclosures of their suppliers. Crews on the group’s PT Megakarya Jaya Raya oil palm concession in Indonesia’s Papua province cleared 40 square kilometers (15 square miles) of forest between May 2015 and April 2017, according to Greenpeace’s satellite-image analysis.

“Companies like Unilever and Nestlé claim to be industry leaders,” forest campaigner Richard George of Greenpeace UK said in a statement. “So why are they still buying from forest destroyers like the HSA group? What are their customers supposed to think? What will it take to get them to act?”

Video © Greenpeace.

Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Mars have all committed to buy palm oil and other products that aren’t tainted with the clearing of forests, the destruction of peatlands or the exploitation of workers — known collectively as “no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation” policies.

But two of these companies’ suppliers, Arma International and Pacific Oils and Fats, are controlled by the Hayel Saeed Anam Group. PepsiCo, Mars and Unilever purchased palm oil from the Arma International, according to lists of suppliers released by the food producers. And Nestlé said that it bought palm oil from Pacific Oils and Fats.

Greenpeace published a report in March questioning whether these and other high-profile companies that have made no-deforestation pledges are actually on track to meet that goal by 2020.

Greenpeace staff on helicopter points out at landcover, forest clearance and plantation development in PT Megakarya Jaya Raya (PT MJR) palm oil concession. Image © Ulet Ifansati / Greenpeace.

In Greenpeace’s aerial shots, the dense forests around the PT Megakarya Jaya Raya concession soon give way to hectare upon hectare of moonscape-like razed forest, the felled trees scattered like matchsticks across a bare surface. In 2016, the World Resources Institute reported that deforestation remains a problem in Indonesia and that in 2015 Papua and West Papua provinces had their highest deforestation rates since 2001.

“Just weeks ago we asked major consumer brands like Pepsi and Nestlé to confirm that they were making good on their commitments to stop buying palm oil from companies that destroy forests, but this footage reveals just how far behind they really are,” Diana Ruiz, a palm oil campaigner with Greenpeace USA, said in the statement.

“Brands need to ensure their supply chains are free from deforestation and the only way to do this is to proactively monitor and enforce their no deforestation standards,” Ruiz said.

Landcover, forest clearance and plantation development in PT Megakarya Jaya Raya (PT MJR) palm oil concession. Image © Ulet Ifansati / Greenpeace.

Banner image of deforestation in Papua, Indonesia by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.

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