Indonesia: Greenpeace investigation claims palm oil supplier to major brands behind further deforestation

Anna Isaac The Telegraph 27 Apr 18

A supplier of palm oil with links to major brands including Unilever, Nestle, PepsiCo and Mars, has been destroying rainforests in a protected area of Papua, Indonesia, a Greenpeace investigation claims.

Palm oil is a vegetable oil found in a wide variety of consumer goods. Global appetites for the commodity have been associated with large scale deforestation in areas including Indonesia and Malaysia.

Video and images gathered by the environmental campaign group’s helicopter appear to show the clearance of 4,000 hectares of rainforest within the PT Megakarya Jaya Raya concession between May 2015 and April 2017.

The company which owns the land in question, the Hayel Saeed Anam Group (HSA) is a Yemeni-owned conglomerate with palm oil supplier subsidiaries. Deeds seen by The Daily Telegraph appear to show the land is held in names of members of the Saeed family which owns HSA Group.

One HSA subsidiary, Arma Foods, is a direct supplier to Mars, PepsiCo and Unilever. Another, Pacific Oils and Fats is listed as a supplier for Nestle. Pacific Inter-Link is also an HSA subsidiary with links to Unilever.

The area in which Greenpeace and a second group, Aidenvironment, claim to have documented the clearance of forest includes peatland.

Peatland has been given an extra level of protection of deforestation, following devastating fires in Indonesia. A presidential decree laid down by Indonesian president Joko Widodo prohibited any clearance on new or previously issued concessions.

The investigation comes as the Indonesian government has attempted to defend the palm oil industry against moves by the EU parliament to discourage the use of the commodity in biofuel on environmental grounds.

All of the firms listed by Greenpeace in their investigation have made public commitments to end deforestation activities within their respective supply chains.

A Unilever spokesman said: “Following recent investigations and monitoring of HSA Group’s activity, we have concluded that the allegations were not being sufficiently addressed. As we have not seen progress that complies with our Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing Policy, we have therefore suspended the placement of any new orders from Pacific Inter-Link and Arma Food Industries, HSA Group’s suppliers, until the allegations have been satisfactorily addressed by them.”

A Nestle spokesman said that the company was opposed to deforestation and destruction of peatland in all parts of the world.

He added: “We have identified some issues with one of our palm oil suppliers with operations in Papua, Indonesia, which was also mentioned by Greenpeace in its recent investigation. We are concerned by these findings and are working closely with The Forest Trust and our supplier to address them.”

A Mars spokesman said: “We are engaging with Arma regarding Greenpeace’s allegations of risk of association with deforestation. As a supplier to Mars, we fully expect Arma to comply with our deforestation and palm oil policies. We are assessing the situation and are prepared to take further action should Arma be found to be non-compliant.”

HSA has not responded to The Daily Telegraph’s request for comment.

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