Two schoolgirls from Bedfordshire, UK, campaigned for Kellogg's to adopt ethical palm oil farming © Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Two schoolgirls from Bedfordshire, UK, campaigned for Kellogg's to adopt ethical palm oil farming © Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Kellogg's updates sourcing policy after UK schoolgirls' campaign

posted by Peter Crush
20 February 2020

Kellogg’s has announced a commitment to source palm oil and 19 other key ingredients sustainably.

In a revised policy update, the global food giant said it will look at sustainably sourcing its 20 most-important ingredients, based on global volume, global spend, environmental risk, social risk and proximity to brand. 

It said: “Although priority ingredients are still at the core of our business – like corn, wheat, rice and potatoes – others have had significant decreases in volumes due to divestiture or shifts in strategy.” 

As part of its commitments, Kellogg’s has confirmed it will now work with smallholders and independent NGOs to monitor suppliers and invest in restoring forests and wildlife. It said it would also take “a consistent and transparent approach to grievance management”, including “suspending offending suppliers at a company-group level”.

Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which previously branded Kellogg’s the worst-performing business among its peers, has supported the change of heart. 

“We applaud the Kellogg Company’s new palm oil and deforestation policies as an important step forward and urge the company to rapidly turn them into action on the ground for communities, workers, and forests,” said Robin Averbeck, agribusiness campaign director at RAN.

A campaign by two school children from Leighton Buzzard has been part-credited with encouraging Kellogg’s’ policies. Bedfordshire-based Asha and Jia Kirkpatrick, 12 and 10, started an online petition in 2018, to help save orangutans dying through habitat removal caused by palm oil farming. The girls were invited into Kellogg’s by executives, and the petition has since gained more than 780,000 signatures.

A Kellogg’s spokeswoman said the palm oil the company uses in Europe is already produced in a “sustainable way” and certified as such. She added: “We can trace the palm oil we buy for use in our foods from the moment it leaves the accredited sustainable palm oil mill, through our supply and manufacturing processes and into our food.”

But Averbeck added: “In the critical year of 2020, as the global climate crisis worsens and deforestation and human rights abuses continue to grow, multinational corporations must make meaningful commitments with never-before-seen ambition and back them up with robust and transparent actions.”

Last week Mondelez International – which owns Cadbury – said it was transitioning to “segregated” palm oil, certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. This is kept separate from non-certified palm oil throughout the supply chain. Critics, however, have said just because the oil is segregated, it is no guarantee it is sustainable.

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