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.
High conservation value (HCV) areas contain items of biological, social or cultural value that are important to conserve, including rare, threatened and endangered species and their habitat. Please visit the HCV Network website for more information.
High carbon stock (HCS) forests: while the HCS methodology is being refined, General Mills will take a precautionary approach to excluding any planting on high carbon stock areas from our supply chains. An initial HCS framework (PDF) and identification tool has been developed by Golden Agri-Resources and SMART, in collaboration with Greenpeace and TFT, and is currently being tested and refined.
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 (HCS) forests. While the HCS methodology is being refined by field testing and science review, new plantings should only be established in low carbon stock areas.
- 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.