Palm oil is a high-yielding, land-efficient crop and an important raw material for the food industry. Its production can contribute to economic development and poverty alleviation in many emerging markets. However, the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations due to high demand is causing deforestation, often in environmentally sensitive areas of tropical rainforest. In the worst cases, areas of high conservation value forest are being lost, forest is being repurposed as farmland without the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples and forest dependent communities and forced and child labor is being used.
In Indonesia and Malaysia, where more than half of all palm oil is produced, much of the rainforest covers peat lands that store billions of tonnes of carbon. Draining and burning the peat lands to create plantations releases carbon dioxide and significantly contributes to climate change.
Small amounts of palm oil are present in many of our products. We are committed to the protection of forests and biodiversity, minimizing the carbon footprint of our supply chain, respecting human rights and boosting the availability and traceability of responsible supplies,
Mars is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a non-profit membership organization that promotes the growth and use of sustainable palm oil. We joined the RSPO to help increase the momentum and impact of the organization’s progress in affecting real and lasting change in the way palm oil is produced.
We only source palm oil from other RSPO members, and expect to meet our target to purchase 100 percent of our palm oil from RSPO-certified sources two years ahead of our year-end 2015 deadline. This is the result of sourcing through the organization’s “mass balance” program.
The mass balance supply chain model requires oil processors to purchase palm oil from certified sources, but allows them to mix it with conventional palm oil during transportation, processing and packaging. This reduces the cost and complexity of handling two separate supply chains, providing a practical approach that fosters greater uptake of certified palm oil and speeds progress toward a sustainable supply.
We recognize additional measures are needed to help accelerate towards a fully responsible palm industry. Working with the wider food industry, we aim to increase pressure on palm oil producers to improve their practices so that their operations improve rural livelihoods and are free of deforestation, further expansion on carbon-rich peatlands, human and labor rights violations and illegal sources. We also aim to increase pressure on traders to raise their standards, eliminate palm oil producers associated with deforestation, further expansion on carbon-rich peatlands, human and labor rights violations and illegal sources and achieve full traceability of supplies.
In addition, we are mapping the impact on deforestation and social impacts of palm oil and other raw materials in our supply chain, which will enable us to build a deeper understanding of the issue, inform the development and implementation of responsible sourcing polices and decide on further actions to take.
Mars Incorporated is committed to working towards 100% traceable sources of palm oil that are free of deforestation, expansion on carbon-rich peatlands, the violation of human and labor rights.
See also our statement of intent on deforestation