Nestle and Mars amongst companies accused of breaking palm oil promises

By Hannah Newberry

Around Halloween, the demand for chocolate and confectionary soars, especially when we’re all pining for those sales in time to binge in anticipation of Christmas.

However, despite government commitments to investigate palm oil usage and clarify what is being used where with supply chains from huge corporate giants, we’re already looking at a drastic fail.

Companies such as Hershey, Nestle and Mars have allegedly broken pledges, where ‘conflict palm oil’ was mutually assured to not be used in the making of confectionary. This originated from Indonesian jungles, where mass deforestation and environmental concerns have led to this debate being fuelled by much public interest.

Ethical customers who seek to spend their money in the best practices are complaining about the deception by these brands, as funding Indonesian palm oil without knowledge is not in their best interests.

Promises were made to investigate the supply chains but were later on revised or not taken as seriously as intended without warning before the Halloween demand. The issue here is that large companies often get their pick of the resources they use, and palm oil is something they get more of a say in than locally supported brands. With sweeping environmental concern, they are in line for scrutiny for a problem where there is ‘no further room for error’.

The impact on animal extinction and land usage are drastic, as palm oil is responsible for much destroyed tropical land worldwide. People are watching many animals disappear before their eyes to the point where it’s uncertain which species our grandchildren would be around to see, including rhinos and sun bears – all victims of having no habitat to survive in anymore.

2015 was the year that Nestle profited hugely off consumers seeking ethical alternatives with commitments to ‘end deforestation’ after Greenpeace placed much social pressure on them to be more socially aware. However, the target was completely missed in a poor show of empathy where a profit was seen to be made from boycotting customer margins.

Genuine targets for these big money makers seem to be of little priority when the environment is of concern and not profit turnovers for the annum. Commitments were disregarded as it became the social norm to only trace back 90% of palm oil usage. Companies as notorious on the confectionery market as Hersheys and co should be able to name exactly where the suppliers stem from without hesitation – low corporate standards are to blame.

While a big improvement has been recognised on Nestle’s part as their previous efforts only showed 45%, is this sufficient with such an environmental epidemic?

Companies are still committing to tracing back their palm oil ‘to plantation’, but there are further sociological issues at hand when consumers are being misled into putting their cash towards potentially harmful ingredients.

Efforts cannot be postponed any longer, as ‘long-term goals’ where the environmental harm will be dealt with in 2020 is not justifiable when palm oil usage is not fundamental, to begin with.