Statement on responsible palm oil sourcing

March 2014

General Mills is committed to sourcing palm oil in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

General Mills is a relatively minor user of palm oil. Nevertheless, we recognize that responsible users of even small amounts of ingredients can impact issues via principled purchasing practices.

We are concerned about the role of palm oil expansion in the deforestation of the world’s rainforests and about the impact of deforestation on biodiversity, endangered species, and the broader environment   Deforestation is a major contributor to global climate change, accounting for an estimated 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

And despite being a highly productive crop that can offer a path out of poverty, unsustainable palm oil production practices can also threaten the rights of indigenous peoples.

To help ensure our purchases do not contribute to deforestation of the world’s rainforests or negatively impact the communities that depend on them, we will source 100 percent of our palm oil from responsible and sustainable sources by 2015 (a commitment we first made in 2010).

General Mills is a member of and supports the principles of the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and RSPO efforts to encourage and certify sustainable palm oil production practices.  To reinforce those principles, General Mills purchases palm oil only from RSPO members – with preference for purchasing RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.

In addition we will source palm oil only from suppliers whose operations meet the following principles:

  • Only legal sources.
  • No development on high conservation value landscapes or high carbon stock forests.
  • No development on peat lands regardless of depth, and use of best management practices for existing plantations on peat.
  • Compliance with the General Mills Supplier Code of Conduct  which describes our expectations in food safety, forced labor, child labor, abuse of labor, freedom of association and collective bargaining, discrimination and harassment, wages and benefits, work hours and overtime, health and safety, environment, and anti-corruption.
  • Prevention and resolution of social and/or land conflicts consistent with the principle of free prior and informed consent.
  • Traceability to the extraction mill and validation of fresh fruit bunches.

As part of our commitment, General Mills has integrated responsible palm oil procurement guidelines into our sourcing strategies.  As a principled purchaser, General Mills engages its suppliers in direct review of their palm oil production and sourcing practices – and will continue to do so.  If an audit or other highly credible source reveals or confirms that a supplier is seriously violating the stated principles, and if that supplier does not acknowledge and immediately move to acceptably remediate the concern, General Mills will move to suspend or eliminate palm oil purchases from the supplier in question.

We support transparency relative to palm production and expansion, and will regularly update our progress. We will encourage our suppliers to do the same. 

Hurdles remain in the palm industry. Use of certified sustainable trade mechanisms, such as GreenPalm certificates, may be necessary in smaller operations. But our objective is clear: General Mills will source 100 percent of our palm oil from responsible and sustainable sources by 2015.

 

2014 global responsibility thumbnail

Report

2014 report on our progress (pdf) Go