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Conflict Palm Oil

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We may not be able to see it, but Conflict Palm Oil has become ubiquitous in our everyday lives. It is found in roughly half the packaged products sold in US grocery stores, including favorite snack foods like ice cream, cookies, crackers, chocolate products, instant noodles, cereals, doughnuts and potato chips. In fact, palm oil is likely present in some form in nearly every room of your home.

Palm oil production is also responsible for human rights violations as corporations often forcefully remove Indigenous Peoples and rural communities from their lands. Tragically, child labor and modern day slavery still occur on plantations in both Indonesia and Malaysia.


Demand for palm oil is skyrocketing worldwide. The recent spike in use by the US snack food industry is due in large part to Conflict Palm Oil being used as a replacement for controversial trans fats. The oil is extracted from the fruit of the oil palms native to Africa, now grown primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia but also expanding across Central and West Africa and Latin America.

Rainforest Action Network launched out palm oil campaign with no less of a goal than to fundamentally change the global marketplace for this commodity. From face-to-face meetings with top corporate officials, to nonviolent direct actions at corporate headquarters, to banner drops calling out bad actors, to brand jams designed to disrupt the public relations plans of our targets, RAN has placed mounting pressure on these companies and coined the now widely used term "Conflict Palm Oil."

Conflict Palm Oil production is now one of the world's leading causes of rainforest destruction. Plantation expansion is pushing deep into the heart of some of the world's most culturally and biologically diverse ecosystems. Irreplaceable wildlife species like the Sumatran Rhino, Sumatran Elephant and the Sumatran and Bornean orangutan are being driven to the brink of extinction. 

But Conflict Palm Oil is not only a local problem. The clearing of rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands for new plantations is releasing globally significant carbon pollution, making Conflict Palm Oil a major driver of human induced climate change. 

Is this really the price we should have to pay for our snack food? Of course not. We must stop Conflict Palm Oil in its tracks.That's why Rainforest Action Network is fighting back, putting pressure on twenty of the most well known food companies in the world—the Snack Food 20—to get Conflict Palm Oil off the shelves right now. 

United as customers and citizens, we're telling brands that orangutans and the forests they live in are worth more than the pennies they're saving. We are demanding that they commit to only using responsible palm oil produced without causing the destruction of rainforests, carbon rich peatlands or the abuse of human rights. 

The crisis caused by Conflict Palm Oil is urgent and the stakes are high. Luckily there is something you can do about it.

Check out these resources to help challenge corporations to cut conflict palm oil


Snack Food 20

By any measure, 2014 was a turning point in the international movement to reform Conflict Palm Oil practices rife in the palm oil industry. Many of the sector's biggest players announced groundbreaking, globally responsible palm oil commitments and pledged to eliminate forest and peatland destruction and human and labor rights abuses from their supply chains. 

You have helped us convince some of the biggest snack food giants such as Kellogg's, Mars, Mondelez, Hershey's, General Mills, Nestlé, Unilever, ConAgra Foods, Smucker's, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin' Brands, Kraft Heinz and Grupo Bimbo to adopt stronger responsible palm oil policies. 

Learn more about the Snack Food 20

At the same time there also remain major laggards who have failed to put adequate policies in place to cut Conflict Palm Oil. PepsiCo is a key laggard as one of the biggest purchasers of palm oil in the Snack Food 20. Major work remains to push the laggards to address their Conflict Palm Oil problem by adopting strong policies and translating them to real changes on the ground. 

The crisis caused by Conflict Palm Oil is urgent and the stakes are high. Luckily, there is something you can do about it. Join us as we take on the Snack Food 20 and win!

Read our Snack Food 20 Scorecard


One of the biggest targets in RAN's history has been agribusiness giant Cargill — the world's largest privately held company and the biggest importer of palm oil into the U.S. After seven years of non-stop pressure, and after constant statements that would not change their practices, Cargill's CEO announced one of the most far-reaching zero deforestation commitments in any industry. This new policy, announced in Fall 2014 at the UN climate summit, covers all Cargill commodities, including palm oil, sugar, soy, cattle, and cocoa — and not just in Indonesia but across the globe.

In the past year we have seen more talk and little progress made by Cargill to transform the operations of its suppliers on the ground. Cargill needs to take swifter action, particularly given the rate of destruction in Southeast Asia and the extent of existing abuses in the palm oil sector.