Kellogg Supports Sustainable Palm Oil

The Kellogg company announced in March 2011 that it intends to support sustainable palm oil production by purchasing certificates from GreenPalm, a company that rewards palm oil plantations that use sustainable practices.  Palm oil is a common ingredient in Kellogg's cereals and baked snacks.

How the GreenPalm Certificates Make a Difference
Consumers should be aware that this does not mean the palm oil used in Kellogg's products is harvested from a sustainable source.  Palm oil from different plantations is mixed together in the production process, and segregating sustainable palm oil is an expensive process that most manufacturers are reluctant to use.  The GreenPalm certificate program is similar to carbon offset programs.  Palm oil producers who use sustainable methods earn one GreenPalm certificate for each ton of sustainable palm oil they produce, then they sell those certificates to companies such as Kellogg, earning extra revenue to support their palm oil production.  This arrangement benefits everyone: companies have a cleaner conscience about the source of their palm oil and can promote themselves as environmentally-concerned, and the palm oil plantations receive extra money to support their efforts to produce sustainable palm oil.  Kellogg claims that if a segregated source of sustainable palm oil becomes available in the future, they will use it if the price is right.

Why Palm Oil Matters
Switching to sustainable palm oil production is crucial for the health of Earth's rainforests, especially the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia, where 85% of the world's palm oil is produced.  Because the palm oil industry in Indonesia and Malaysia has grown so quickly in the last several decades, new palm oil plantations are being planted on newly cleared rainforest land rather than traditional agricultural land.  This promotes deforestation that threatens the natural habitats of wild animals, including the endangered orangutan.  GreenPalm estimates that without sustainability efforts, orangutan habitat could be completely destroyed within twelve years, due largely to palm oil production.

Kellogg uses a small percentage of the world's palm oil, but they are joining the list of other companies who are helping to revolutionize the industry.  Palm oil is present in many foods, and is also used in soaps and beauty products.  Unilever, the largest buyer of palm oil and the parent company of recognizable brands such as Dove, Blue Band and Slim-Fast, began moving toward a more sustainable source of palm oil in 2008.  In 2010, both General Mills and Nestle declared plans to source palm oil only from sustainable sources by 2015.

Photo Credit:  musicfanatic29