Clif Bar – Not Far Enough, Not There Yet, on Palm Oil

cliff-bar

 

My girlfriend texted me from work the other day. She said, “I’m eating a Clif Bar, which has palm oil.  Just saw ingredients. It says organic palm oil.”

Knowing organic palm oil doesn’t mean anything when it comes to rainforest destruction, I wrote Clif Bar an email inquiring about their palm oil sourcing.

To be honest, I don’t know why I hadn’t written to them before.  Without getting into their whole Clif Bar ethos, their credo seems to be all about the environment.

Conserving and restoring our natural resources means growing a business that operates in harmony with the laws of nature.

Think again.

An attentive and prompt response came back quickly, pointing to their link that says:

Sustainable Palm Kernel Oil Sourcing

The adoption of Rainforest Alliance certification is a way to help address the environmental and social problems posed by the expansion of palm oil plantations – including deforestation, displacement of indigenous peoples and competition between large agribusinesses. By working to promote the sustainable production and manufacturing of palm oil and palm kernel oil, the Rainforest Alliance is helping to mitigate the social and environmental impacts of a growing industry.

Currently, 100 percent of our USDA-certified organic palm kernel oil is from South America and Rainforest Alliance certified.

We also source conventionally-grown palm kernel oil from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. We are currently transitioning our conventional palm kernel oil with the goal of sourcing 100 percent of our total palm kernel oil from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.

Note that last paragraph.  So I wrote back:

Your link shows promise but this gives me MUCH concern:

Does your company know that “conventionally-grown” palm oil in Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines means:

– Deforestation

– Death of orangutans and other critically endangered species, like Sumatran rhino and Sumatran elephant

– Displacement of people

– Enslavement of workers in atrocious plantation conditions 

– Exacerbation of global warming?

HOW MUCH of your palm oil is sourced from these “conventionally-grown” plantations?  Because it’s THAT MUCH that contributes to the DESTRUCTION OF OUR PLANET.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

They responded.

Hi again,

The adoption of Rainforest Alliance certification is a way to help address the environmental and social problems posed by the expansion of palm oil plantations – including deforestation, displacement of indigenous peoples and competition between large agribusinesses. By working to promote the sustainable production and manufacturing of palm oil and palm kernel oil, the Rainforest Alliance is helping to mitigate the social and environmental impacts of a growing industry.

Currently, 100 percent of our USDA-certified organic palm kernel oil is from South America, and certified both Rainforest Alliance and RSPO-IP. The RSPO-IP certification guarantees the traceability of palm oil from the field to origin. It’s the most stringent certification offered by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

Spare me.  I responded again.

Anybody willing to go on the record about my comments below?  

What are you doing to transition?

When will that occur?

How much environmental destruction is Clif Bar willing to inflict on the world until then?

Why should we consumers wait?

How much of this shitty Indonesia/Malaysian “Conventional” palm oil do you use?

Why do you immediately write back when it’s easy to point to link but when I ask deeper questions you go silent.

Clif Bar’s caring about the environment only goes so far, I guess.

To their credit, they got back to me today.

I spoke to a few of my colleagues about where we are with transitioning to 100 percent of our total palm kernel oil from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. We’re working diligently towards this goal and have found that it’s a very complicated process.  It’s incredibly hard to find suppliers who can meet our quantity and quality demands.  We’ve helped one supplier convert and are working with others to make this transition as well.  It takes time for this process to take root and we’re determined to make it happen.

I will hang on to your contact info and keep you updated over time as I learn more.

Thanks for your patience,

But I couldn’t let this rest.  Too many questions.

Thanks for this, So no timetable on WHEN that will occur? (There are other companies who’ve stopped using bad palm oil, see Dr. Bronner’s and Ben and Jerry’s.

It CAN BE DONE IF A COMPANY CARES!

So still some questions

How much environmental destruction is Clif Bar willing to inflict on the world until then?

Why should we consumers wait?

How much of this shitty Indonesia/Malaysian “Conventional” palm oil do you use?

 

I got another prompt response, but it’s obvious this person is getting tired of my crazy “enviro” ways.

No timetable on when. I’ve answered your questions as best I can and I’ve given you all the information I have. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

 

Well, all this to say, Clif Bar KNOWS it’s destroying the environment, is dragging its feet on changing, makes excuses, and doesn’t follow its own credo, or business leaders like Dr. Bronner’s and Ben and Jerry.

I for one, knowing this, will BOYCOTT Clif Bars from now on — and advise my girlfriend and others to do likewise (including my employer’s kitchen).

 

 

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One Response to Clif Bar – Not Far Enough, Not There Yet, on Palm Oil

  1. Gary Dura says:

    Thank you for keeping us aware of companies that don’t take saving the rain forests and it’s animals safe from harm. I for one will not touch any of there products until they show that it’s not all about the bottom line, I will also notify them of the same.. Thank you for your efforts.

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