TastyKake Finally Gets Back To Me On Palm Oil — As Indonesian and Malaysian Fires Rage On

PA General Store July 24, 2014

PA General Store
July 24, 2014

I have another long history with Tastykake.  A couple of years ago (circa 2013, I think), I was in a Jersey Mike’s, an exploding east coast based sandwich chain (see ya, Subway!) that proudly showcases its east coast bona fides.  One of those (I’ve heard) is Tastykake:  a sugary-Twinkee (hey, I’m from California) dessert-snack staple along the eastern seaboard, or so I’ve been told.

Well, this west coast guy was very concerned when he spied palm oil as the SECOND INGREDIENT on the label.  Naturally, I fired off my usual “death and destruction” email to them.

Crickets.  I wrote again, demanding attention.  I actually received a phone call from what seemed like a nice, overworked lady who had no knowledge of their palm oil sourcing, so not a lot of help.  I told her that that corporate laissez faire attitude was rubbish:  that it is a moral and ethical imperative for a company to be able to easily point to its sustainability policies and supply chain.  I let her off the hook, though, at this point, as she was facing the heat, twisting and turning in the wind from my peppering her with surgically precise anti-palm oil questioning and soap box preaching.  (I WAS charming, though).  When she said she’d get back to me, I waited for her to call (I know, right?  What a chump.) with Tastykake’s supply chain information.

And waited.  And waited.  Alas, it was not meant to be.  So I called her back a few weeks later, reached the same person.  But she was flustered still, from what I remember.  She didn’t have the information.  I was naturally hot and bothered, and disappointed.

My day job took me away to other matters for days, weeks, months…and years, with my conscience eating away at me with each visit to Jersey Mike’s, those little palm oil-packed f$ckers staring up at me like so many sweet, sensitive, innocent (displaced) orangutan eyes.

Until the other day — when I wrote them back enraged over the annual slash and burn conflagration in Indonesia, of which this year IS THE WORST EVER!   Look at this graphic below that I made from a satellite image taken recently of Indonesia and Malaysia:

NO CONFLICT PALM OIL HAZE!

Look at that carnage!

So how has a couple of years — and growing anti-palm oil sentiment around the globe — changed the delicate sensibility of corporate morality?  Here’s their response now.

Dear XXX,

Both Flowers Foods and Tasty Baking Company are committed to applying the principles of sustainability to all aspects of our business. This includes conserving natural resources through different means, including the careful selection of ingredient suppliers.
We are aware of the situation facing the world’s orangutan population and share your concern.
Between our two companies, we use three palm oil suppliers. All three of our palm oil suppliers have active sustainability programs that involve sourcing palm oil from areas that do not infringe upon orangutan habitats.  (Emphasis mine.)
All three of our palm oil suppliers also are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). In fact, one of our suppliers was a founding member of RSPO. You can learn more about our palm oil suppliers and their involvement with RSPO by visiting the following online sites:
http://www.cargill.com/corporate-responsibility/pov/palm-oil/index.jsp

http://www.bunge.com/citizenship/sus_palm_oil.html

http://northamerica.croklaan.com/Sustainability/
XXX+ we appreciate your concern. Thank you again for taking the time to contact us about this matter.

Sincerely,

Flowers Consumer Relations

Good enough?  Well, we shall see.  The conflagration continues daily, with no end in sight until the rains come, hopefully in November.

In the meantime, have a look at those links.  These companies seem to care, but mega-behemoth Cargill has recalcitrant small growers that have been allegedly implicated in slash and burn tactics in the past (plausible deniability?).  This despite Cargill being a member of the “fox-watching-the henhouse” Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

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