I made a mistake: I rushed to buy a product without checking for palm oil. I went out and bought 4 packs for $1 (or was it 4 packs for $4? Hmmmmm, whatever it was the price was dirt cheap) Maruchan noodles. While I was heating up the two cups of water (in a historic California drought, mind you!) I needed for a cheap memory trip back to college roommates’ meals of yore (I didn’t eat ramen back in college — what WAS I thinking about!?), I saw that there’s palm oil all over this product.
So I wrote them my usual Death (of orangutan) and Destruction (of rainforests) email (D&D).
Then I wrote them again.
Then I wrote them again.
Then I called their Irvine, CA headquarters and left a shrill voicemail, summarizing my D&D email’s general gist — YOU’RE CAUSING DEFORESTATION AND KILLING CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES!!).
You know what I received back?
Crickets. Chirp. Chirp.
Except for this computer generated piece of cyberspace BS:
We would like to take this moment to thank you for your suggestion(s).
We hope you have a wonderful day.
They NEVER once had the courtesy to respond to me about my direct palm oil question. Not. Even. Once.
Not so coincidentally, I read a message board (do they still call them that?) where Maruchan customers complained bitterly, not only about insects and vermin feces (OK, that’s about the world’s most sickening word) in their ramen noodles, but about the absurdly bad customer service for which this shoddy company is known. They never received responses to their inquiries either. But I emailed and called at least five times total about their palm oil sourcing, so this IS ridiculous.
Or is it?
Their silence is actually pretty TELLING.
If you are an environmentally aware company with progressive sourcing and sustainable practices you BRAG about it. Am I right, people?! (High Five!). You public relations the hell out of being “the good guy” and make it a part of the company marketing corporate-speak. As the Warren Beatty character Leo Farnsworth (really Joe Pendleton) did in the classic 1978 “Heaven Can Wait”
“Yeah, yeah, but we don’t care how much it costs, do we?
We just care about how much it MAKES!
And if it costs too much, we charge a penny more.
We make it part of the game plan.
‘Would you pay a penny to save a fish who thinks?'”
Start around the 2:30 mark in the below link for this rousing “good guy tuna company” speech.
You don’t hide and cower and shrink from the hard questions from your customers, like the potential rainforest rapists you may be. “You protect your lead.”
Maruchan is actually being kicked in the ass by their competitors over at Top Ramen, who at least respond to such emails and tout their supposed palm oil bona fides by being RSPO members (Big fucking deal).
See my piece Top Ramen piece from a year ago here:
So, in light of Maruchan’s cowardly silence, I’d BOYCOTT THEM until they give us all an answer with which we can all ethically live. I for one won’t sacrifice the life of an orangutan or a hectare of forest for a 25 cent (or $1) package of freakin’ shitty noodles.
Without that reassurance, they’re dead to me.
BOYCOTT, PEOPLE! BOYCOTT! AND TELL MARUCHAN WHY!!
Boycott means nothing if you don’t communicate to the company!
UPDATE: 6/27/2015: Today kicks off Rainforest Action Network’s call-in campaign to Maruchan and Nissin to get them to adopt a palm oil policy involving sustainable policy. Well, I called Marchuan at 7:45 PT and spoke to a nice customer service representative who said she’d have to call me back in 10 minutes with their palm oil information. Twenty minutes later, she called back and gave me directions to their parent company’s (Toyo Suisan Group) webpage’s environmental policy on palm oil. Here it is, cut and pasted (saving you the trip):
Palm Oil Procurement Policy
The Toyo Suisan Group is sincerely concerned about the impact of the palm oil industry on the environment and society. We will address these concerns by adopting the palm oil procurement policy outlined below.
The Toyo Suisan Group will comply with the laws and regulations of each country and will strive to protect rainforests and high carbon stock areas. We will respect human rights throughout our supply chain and will establish transparency and traceability by joining the Roundtable on Responsible Palm Oil (RSPO).
We will comply with the following principles as a basis for palm oil procurement and in the United States, we will continue to work with the RSPO and our palm oil suppliers to achieve complete transition to sustainable palm oil by 2020. (Emphasis mine.)
1. Commitment to transparency
2. Compliance with applicable laws and regulations
3. Commitment to long-term economic and financial viability
4. Use of appropriate best practices by growers and millers
5. Environmental responsibility and conservation of natural resources and biodiversity
6. Responsible consideration of employees, and of individuals and communities affected by growers and mills
7. Responsible development of new plantings
8. Commitment to continuous improvement in key areas of activity
Will there be any rainforest left in 2020?! Not sure if this is good enough for RAN — or me, but it’s better than the silence I got last summer.