Indian palm oil demand killing Indonesian forests, says Greenpeace

By Ankush Chibber

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Palm oil

India consumes almost 20% of global palm oil supplies, more than any other nation
India consumes almost 20% of global palm oil supplies, more than any other nation
A new report from Greenpeace has panned the Indian food processing industry, blaming its unending demand for palm oil as a key reason for the destruction of Indonesian rainforests.

The report, Frying the Forest​, argues that leading Indian food manufacturers including ITC, Britannia, Godrej and Ruchi Soya are causing the destruction of Indonesian rainforests, because of their high demand for palm oil.

Despite the recent commitment by Indonesia’s largest palm oil producer, Golden Agri-Resources, to a ‘no deforestation footprint’ and the Government’s commitment to strengthen the deforestation moratorium, the destruction of Indonesia’s forests and peatland for palm oil continues, says the report.

Data from the environmental charity and the Indian agriculture ministry reveals that India is the world’s largest consumer of palm oil – most of which is sourced from Indonesia.

The country consumed 7.2 million tonnes in 2011-12, accounting for 19% of the global palm oil supply – more than either China (16%) or the European Union (14%). 

Rainforest and peatland threats

The Greenpeace report (found here​) shows that Duta Palma, one of Indonesia’s biggest palm oil companies and member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is still destroying rainforests and peatlands of the country.

 “Greenpeace investigations reveal that several Indian firms are using palm oil from the company Duta Palma, which is destroying forest and peatland in Indonesia,” ​said, Wirendro Sumargo, forest campaigner, Greenpeace South East Asia.

“Duta Palma is a supplier to the Indian market and its oil has been bought by Ruchi Soya, who has in turn supplied companies such as ITC, Parle and Britannia,”​ said Sumargo.

No commitment

“Despite our requests, no Indian company has so far made commitments to ensure sure that their palm oil and other supply chain components are not linked to deforestation,”​ said Nandikesh Sivalingam, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner.

“This poses a severe risk to their brands. Greenpeace is urging Indian companies using palm oil, such as ITC, Britannia, and Parle, to show true leadership, and demonstrate that their sustainability commitments are not empty promises,”​ he said.

The report further called on these Indian companies introduce a time-bound, zero deforestation policy, stop trading with companies that destroy forests and peatland like Duta Palma and also stop sourcing from third party suppliers who refuse to rule out supply from companies like Duta Palma.

Getting worse

According to the report, this destruction is worsening climate change and harming the habitat of endangered species in the region – such as the Sumatran tiger and the orangutan.

Greenpeace cited data from to Indonesia’s National Climate Change Council, which said the palm oil industry is one of the leading drivers of deforestation and peatland loss in Indonesia.

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