The new sustainability chief at General Mills has not wasted any time in implementing new environmental goals for the major foods company. In a statement on responsible palm oil sourcing, the company said it would “strive to source 100 percent of our palm oil from responsible and sustainable sources by 2015.”
“This is an urgent issue for the planet we share,” said General Mills’ chief sustainability officer Jerry Lynch. “The increase in global demand for palm oil is putting pressure on some of the world’s most valuable rainforest ecosystems.
General Mills said it uses about one-tenth of one percent of world production, but “acknowledges that responsible users of even small amounts of ingredients can impact issues via principled purchasing practices.”
To ensure that its purchases aren’t associated with deforestation of the world’s rainforests, General Mills has outlined several initiatives for the development of certified sustainable palm oil production practices.
One of those is the company’s support for a moratorium on the destruction of high-conservation value (HCV) forests and high-carbon value landscapes, such as draining of peat-lands, for expansion of palm oil production. General Mills pledges to never knowingly source palm oil produced through palm oil expansion resulting in deforestation or destruction of vulnerable ecosystems.
Also as part of its commitment, General Mills has integrated environmentally and socially responsible palm oil production into its assessment of suppliers, including direct review of their palm oil production and sourcing practices.
General Mills will only purchase palm oil from Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) members. However, the company will suspend or eliminate any palm oil purchases from a supplier that has violated the RSPO policies involving destruction of high-conservation value rainforest, draining of peat lands, or violation of free prior and informed consent provisions for palm oil production or expansion.
A number of food makers including Unilever, Nestle, Cadbury and Kraft and restaurants such as Burger King over the past year have moved to drop Sinar Mas as a supplier of their palm oil purchases due to claimed links to deforestation.