Betty Crocker is a well-loved name across baking-mad Britain, but one of its suppliers has been linked to the destruction of the environment. The leading baking brand is sourcing palm oil from IOI, a company responsible for destroying orangutan habitat and rainforest in Indonesia. IOI have been accused of a number of environmental scandals and many companies have dissociated with them as a result.
General Mills is one of the biggest food manufacturers in the world. It owns Häagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Yoplait and many American-style cereal brands including Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Grahams and Lucky Charms. They also own the leading cake mix brand in the UK, Betty Crocker.
One of General Mills’ palm oil suppliers is IOI, a notorious company with plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia. Greenpeace first exposed IOI’s destruction of forests and orangutan habitat in a 2008 report Burning up Borneo. Since then, IOI has been accused of various scandals, including land-grabbing, bad labour practices, forest fires and deforestation.
Greenpeace are calling for General Mills to follow the example of other major brands and cancel their contracts with IOI. Greenpeace forests campaigner, Jamie Woolley said: “When you’re baking, you really care about what goes into your cakes. Forest destruction isn’t a popular ingredient. So why is General Mills spoiling Betty Crocker’s cakes with palm oil from rainforest destroyers IOI?”
After last year’s forest fires crisis, Indonesia’s palm oil industry has been under growing pressure to end its destruction of rainforests and peatlands. In November, the Indonesian government sanctioned IOI following a major outbreak of fire in one of its concessions in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.
In April 2016, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an industry body tasked with making palm oil production sustainable, suspended IOI for deforestation. Instead of making sweeping changes, IOI responded with a court case against the RSPO in Geneva.
Following its suspension, major brands such as Unilever, Nestle, Mars, Mondelez (Cadbury), Kellogg and Colgate-Palmolive all severed their ties with IOI. In a statement, General Mills said that it was ‘committed to sustainably sourcing palm oil’ but continues to buy from IOI.
Jamie Woolley added: “Companies know that their customers want to enjoy baking cupcakes without burning rainforests. That’s why so many other major brands have done the right thing and stopped buying palm oil from IOI. General Mills’ failure to act leaves a bad taste in the mouth.”