Nestle gives Orangutans a break

Greenpeace claims sweet victory over Nestle

May 17, 2010 – 2:35PM  Sydney Morning Herald

Environment group Greenpeace has claimed social media led to its success in a campaign that linked global food giant Nestle’s chocolate bar KitKat to deforestation in Indonesian rainforests and the destruction of orang-utan habitats.

Today in Malaysia, Nestle announced a partnership with not-for-profit organisation The Forest Trust (TFT), promising to adhere to responsible sourcing guidelines for palm oil.

In a Greenpeace report titled Caught Red-handed, launched on March 17, Greenpeace exposed Nestle’s use of Indonesian logging company Sinar Mas and subsidiaries including Asia Pulp and Paper to obtain palm oil.

Palm oil is used as an ingredient in Nestle chocolate products, including its well known KitKat chocolate bars.

Greenpeace said Sinar Mas was implicated in rainforest destruction and the destruction of orang-utan habitats as it planted plantations for palm oil and pulp.

An accompanying video posted on YouTube went on to record more than 1 million views – in part because Nestle had attempted to have it removed, Stephen Campbell, the head of campaigns for Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said today.

“[Social media] played an enormous role,” Mr Campbell said. “Within 24 hours the campaign was global because of the web video.”

By March 31, Nestle had agreed to stop dealing directly with Sinar Mas and its subsidiaries.

Today’s announcement and the involvement of TFT marks a further step, in that it commits Nestle to no longer source Sinar Mas products indirectly through third-party suppliers.

Nestle said it would “focus on the systematic identification and exclusion of companies owning or managing high risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation”.

Mr Campbell said Nestle had shown a misunderstanding of the role of social media.

“It’s no longer about broadcasting, it’s about interaction,” he said.

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