Palm oil for Nestlé: more than 1,000 cases of deforestation per day

Oil palm plantation, Borneo, Indonesia Thousands of oil palm seedlings are ready for new plantations in the rainforest (© globalfilm)

Oct 22, 2020

In 2010, Nestlé gave itself ten years to switch to 100% deforestation-free palm oil. Today, the food giant still cannot document the source of almost a third of the palm oil it uses. In 2019, Nestlé recorded over 1,000 cases of deforestation daily. NGOs also accuse its palm oil suppliers of land grabs, exploitation and child labor.

Ten years ago, Nestlé promised the public that by 2020, it would only use deforestation-free raw materials. We examined the food giant’s track record regarding palm oil.

Nestlé describes palm oil as a valuable raw material produced in harmony with nature. The group consumed 455,000 tons of the tropical oil in 2019. Yet according to its own figures, 30% of its palm oil still came from sources that are not traceable or not yet free from deforestation.

Nestlé admits that a satellite rainforest monitoring service it commissioned documented no less than 388,047 cases of deforestation last year. When taking only areas within 50 kilometers of the palm oil mills into account, this amounted to 473,000 hectares of rainforest that were cut down.

Nestlé is not disclosing who is behind the deforestation. The group’s list of palm oil suppliers  is extremely long, with 1,735 oil mills in 24 countries around the equator. Of those suppliers, the food giant suspended only eight last year.

Our conclusion: Nestlé pledged to ensure that within ten years, the palm oil it uses would be sourced in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner. It has not succeeded – despite the very long time it gave itself. While the Swiss-based multinational is pacifying consumers with PR promises, it continues to use cheap palm oil from obscure sources — and the price for this booming business is being paid by people and nature in tropical countries.

Rainforest Rescue recommends avoiding all products that contain palm oil.

The following fact check is our analysis of the information on palm oil published by Nestlé:

Detailed fact check: Nestlé palm oil is not sustainable