I am in a great new job at a cool company in the Bay Area. Lots of snacks, drinks, etc., available to employees. I reached recently for one snack, Famous Amos cookies, for a sweet tooth fix and checked the ingredients. Sure enough: the scourge that is palm oil is in it. I sent them my usual email:
Your label indicates your company uses palm oil. As such, please tell me from where it sources it. Is it from certified sustainable sources as many other conscientious companies are shifting toward using these days? Or is it “Conflict Palm Oil,” and contributing to the horrifying environmental damage and social justice atrocities occurring in Southeast Asia, South America, and Central Africa?
Indeed, the unchecked demand for Conflict Palm Oil is causing:
1). The destruction of the “lungs of the planet,” namely, the last rainforests;
2). The death (and torture) of the critically endangered species who inhabit it, like the orangutan, Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Elephant, etc.;
3). The displacement of the indigenous human inhabitats who depend on the rainforest for their very sustenance;
4). The enslavement of the poor in atrocious palm oil plantation working conditions;
5). The severe exacerbation of global warming.
Does (Insert product here) feel it is doing the right thing for the world it is handing over to future generations?
I demand to know. Until then I will boycott, and urge others to boycott, your product.”
Well, Mr. Famous Amos (there was one?) responded. Rather, mother ship Kellogg’s responded:
Thank you for contacting us about where Famous Amos gets palm oil. Your interest in Famous Amos® cookies is greatly appreciated and we are happy to provide more information to you.
Famous Amos is part of the Kellogg family. As a socially responsible company, Kellogg has been committed to responsibly sourcing palm oil since 2009. All of the palm oil we use is sourced through a combination of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Certified Segregated supply chain, RSPO Mass Balance mixed-source supply chain and the purchase of Green Palm certificates.
Kellogg is committed to working with its global palm oil suppliers to source fully traceable palm oil to known and certified sources that are environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable, in adherence to the principles within our Global Supplier Code of Conduct. In addition, we invite you to read through our Sustainable Palm Oil Commitment to learn more.
We completely understand your concern and hope this answers your question. Thanks again, Rick, for the time you took to contact us.
Reference Number: 029149362A
Wow! This is NOT good. Given how absurd the RSPO schemes are, all that mass balance and the purchase of Green Certificate gibberish means is that unsustainable palm oil is still being grown somewhere, leading to the sort of slash and burn fires that have ruined southeast Asia this year (and every year) — and these supposedly green companies offset this anti-rainforest, anti-orangutan practice of slashing and burning land for monoculture plantations by buying certificates from companies that do produce sustainable (is there such a thing?) palm oil. Mere offsets don’t mean shit in the short term.
Huge conglomerates like Kellogg’s should be using their amazing purchasing power for the environmental good, not propping up toothless organizations like the RSPO, which is akin to the “fox watching the hen house.”
I will urge my new Silicon Valley company to boycott these products and, in the meanwhile, write Kellogg’s back to urge them to do the right thing in regard to palm oil.
UPDATED: 11/24/2015: Kellogg’s wrote me back when I prodded them. Here’s their seemingly personalized response:
Thank you for letting us know that you dislike our use of Palm Oils, even with our commitment to sourcing with RSPO certified segregated supply, RSPO Mass Balance mixed-source supply chain and Green Palm Certificates. Your input is important to us and we appreciate the time you took to share your concern.
We are committed to doing what’s right for the environment and society while we work toward achieving our vision of enriching and delighting the world with foods and brands that matter. We are dedicated to the highest standards of ethical behavior and integrity in the way we conduct our business and promote our brands. We recognize that a reputation is a very fragile thing and so is the environment, and we work hard to ensure that all of our corporate actions are consistent with our commitment to integrity.
We are very sorry to hear that you are disappointed in our efforts. Your comments are important to us, and we will certainly continue to look into better ways to improve our products and how they are are made, including the sourcing of the ingredients. We are confident in the integrity of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm oil, but again, we will continue to monitor our processes and their effects.
We are always interested in your feedback and want you to know that your comments have been shared with the right people here at Famous Amos.
Thanks again, Xxxx, for contacting us.
If you have additional comments or a photo to send to us, click here.
Please do not use your “reply” button to respond to this e-mail.
Well, good to know they won’t do shit to change their sourcing. The RSPO has far too much power for what little they do to grow sustainable Palm oil. And companies who hide behind RSPO membership or certification are just engaging in good old fashioned greenwashing.