Privately-held Cargill has 165,364 ha of oil palm plantations. Among those palm oil companies evaluated this year, Cargill scores near the highest. The company says that by the end of 2020 it plans to eliminate deforestation in its palm oil sourced from third-party suppliers. And it reported that at the end of last year, its NDPE policy covered 93 percent of its palm oil volumes. It has also put in place a process for dealing with grievances.
In 2014, the company began making significant palm oil-related commitments. In July of that year, it announced a NDPE palm oil policy for its own operations and third-party suppliers. This policy was a major step forward for Cargill and was widely praised by outside experts and NGOs. Later that year, in September, Cargill announced at the UN Climate Summit in New York that it would extend its zero-deforestation policy to all its global commodity operations such as cattle, soy, sugar, and cocoa among others. Cargill has yet to publish details on the implementation of this cross-commodity policy. Finally, Cargill also endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests in 2014.
Currently, Cargill’s policies include no-burning, applying the High Carbon Stock approach, protecting High Conservation Value areas, and excluding sourcing from peat regardless of depth. In 2019, the company announced an updated forest policy, a human rights commitment, and an “independent forest protection advisory panel.”
Even so, Cargill’s palm oil operations have been the subject of controversy in recent years. It took two years of NGO leadership and pressure to finally get Cargill in 2017 to suspend its business relationship with Guatemalan palm oil company Reforestadora de Palmas del Petén, S.A (REPSA) because REPSA was allegedly involved in the murder of local policymaker Rigoberto Lima Choc in 2015 when Choc raised concerns regarding REPSA’s documented 100-mile pollution of the La Pasion River. It purchases palm oil from some actors that deforest land, such as TH Plantations and Peputra Group.
Cargill is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.