Kellogg’s and Cadbury linked to indigenous palm oil exploitation

Kellogg’s and Cadbury owner Mondelez have been linked to palm oil companies that have potentially stolen millions of dollars in income from indigenous communities.

According to a joint BBC investigation with The Gecko Project and environmental news site Mongabay, palm oil producers have deprived communities of an estimated $90 million per year in Borneo’s Central Kalimantan province alone.

The investigation into the oil supplier for both the  global cereal brand and the chocolate giant, as well as a number of others, also revealed that companies have also failed to provide more than 100,000 hectares of legally required plasma.

Since 2007, it has been a legal requirement for large-scale plantation to share a fifth of the land with local communities – however firms have ignored the plasma scheme, resulting in stolen indigenous land and millions in income.

Some 13 major firms, including Colgate and Reckitt, still source palm oil from producers who withholding are plasma or profits from communities.

While corporations have vowed to clean their supply chains, the investigation found that Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s and Mondelez have all sourced palm oil from a plantation in Borneo that was temporarily shut down in February for breaking legal obligations for over a decade.

READ MORE: Iceland reverses palm oil ban following Ukraine war

Th origins of palm oil companies exploiting the Orang Rimba nomadic tribe in Indonesia traces back to the 1990s – where in exchange for controlling their ancestral lands the tribe were promised control over selling the fruits.

However, 25 years on the land is still controlled by oil producer the Salim Group, which provides FMCG companies with oil for products including Cadbury chocolate, Kellogg’s Poptarts and Crunchy Nut Clusters.

Instead of receiving smallholdings, members of Orang Rimba have been left picking fallen palm oil fruitlets to sell in order to feed their families.

“This is just one example – it’s happening everywhere,” says Daniel Johan, an Indonesian MP who oversees the agricultural and forestry sector, who has acted on behalf of the tribe. “The corporations are greedy.”

Cadbury owner Mondelez stated it had contacted experts “to better understand the issue and how we might address [it] in future with further public commitments”.

Johnson & Johnson added it “takes these allegations very seriously” and had initiated its grievance process.

Kellogg’s said it would investigate the allegations and “coordinate with our suppliers to determine next steps”.

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