An oily subject

15 December 2009
I was surprised when Greenpeace lauded Unilever's decision to stop buying palm oil from an Indonesian supplier. The campaign group described the move as a “new standard” after the consumer goods giant shelved the vendor, which was accused of tearing down forests to create palm oil plantations. But surely Unilever, which has committed to purchase all palm oil from sustainable sources by 2015, should have known about the alleged offences. It claims that audits of palm oil vendors earlier this year identified "several areas of concern", so why not suspend purchases at that point? Instead it appears the glare of the public eye has forced the company's hand. Unilever has been found out. As we reported last week, consumer awareness of these issues is increasing. Unilever, with its ubiquitous household brands, will have to be more than reactionary in the future.
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