Unilever, Danone and other major consumer goods companies are purchasing palm oil from mills linked to Indonesia’s worst deforesters

Washington, D.C.  A new report from Chain Reaction Research (CRR) has tracked palm fruit from plantations, actively involved in deforestation, to a mill supplying palm products to companies like Unilever, Danone, and others. These companies have zero-deforestation commitments that preclude buying palm products from companies that participate in deforestation in any form, legal or not. Utilizing satellite data and field research, CRR has identified the ten companies responsible for the majority of deforestation on Indonesian, Malaysian, and Papua New Guinean palm concessions during the first six months of 2020. Sulaidy-associated palm oil companies have topped the CRR list of top deforesters for the last two years and accounted for 15% of the monitored deforestation in the first half of 2020. These plantations were monitored by field investigators who witnessed trucks of fresh fruit bunch (FFB) palm being driven from their plantations to a mill connected to Unilever and Danone’s supply chains.

Images of Sulaidy owned plantation PT Borneo Citra Persada Mandiri demonstrating deforestation occurring over the course of 2020



Christopher Wiggs, Sustainable Sourcing Programme Manager at Aidenvironment, explained that Sulaidy companies are not known to own any mills, making it difficult to see which supply chains they serve.

“However, investigators for this report followed a truck carrying fresh fruit bunches going from one of the Sulaidy owned plantation’s in West Kalimantan to a mill owned by PT Pundi Lahan Khatulistiwa. This visible connection between Sulaidy’s plantation and Pundi’s mill should concern companies with deforestation commitments as they are likely getting FFB from the top deforester,” he said.

Wiggs said that this activity is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Most of the companies that made the top ten list of deforesters sell into the supply chains of major consumer goods corporations with zero-deforestation commitments. These commitments should preclude them from allowing this palm oil to enter their supply chains regardless of whether the deforestation in question is legal, or whether the specific palm oil product they’re purchasing was grown on non-deforested land,” he added.

The full set of companies with these commitments whose supply chains may be tainted by the top ten companies in CRR’s list is below:

Apical                                 HSA Group/Pacific Inter-Link        Avon

Danone                              Kellogg’s                                                L’Oréal

Mondelēz                          Nestlé                                                     PepsiCo

Reckitt Benckiser          Hershey                                                 General Mills

Johnson & Johnson     Upfield                                                   Unilever

AAK                                      COFCO International                       Itochu Corporation

ADM                                     Fuji Oil                                                   Colgate-Palmolive

Friesland Campina        Mars                                                       P&G

PZ Cussons                        KLK                                                        Sime Darby

Chain Reaction Research

Chain Reaction Research is a consortium of Aidenvironment, Profundo, and Climate Advisers. CRR conducts sustainability and financial risk analysis for analysts and investors, with a specific focus on commodity value chains and deforestation. For more information, visit https://chainreactionresearch.com/

Inquiries about the report should be directed to Kyle Saukas at saukas@www.climateadvisers.org