Oreo and Ritz Cracker Producer Drops Palm Oil Suppliers Linked to Deforestation

If you’re ecologically-minded, you probably already know how the production of palm oil ravages the environment. Perhaps you’ve even been boycotting products that contain palm oil as a form of protest.

If you’ve been avoiding Oreo cookies, Cadbury candy bars, Triscuits, Chips Ahoy and Ritz Crackers for this reason, you can consider enjoying them once again.

Mondelēz International, maker of these products and many more, announced that it is dropping 12 palm oil suppliers that contribute to deforestation. The company also called for 100 percent sustainability and 100 percent transparency across the palm oil industry.

Mondelēz International now demands that its palm oil suppliers:

  • Commit to palm oil concession mapping – Suppliers must map all mills they buy from, to identify and focus on areas of highest risk for deforestation. It also means upstream suppliers must provide “universal, group-wide concession maps” as a condition of doing business
  • Act faster to eliminate deforestation in their palm oil supply chain – This requirement mandates “time-bound remediation plans or Mondelēz International will cease contracts with upstream suppliers engaged in deforestation.”

What’s the Problem with Palm Oil?

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of the African oil palm tree. Though it’s technically West African in origin, the oil palm tree can grow anywhere with a tropical climate. Producers now grow this tree on vast plantations in Asia, North America and South America.

In recent years, palm oil has become a wildly popular ingredient in many products, because it’s the most efficient source of vegetable oil. Producers make a whopping 66 million tons of palm oil every year.

These days, you’ll find palm oil in 50 percent of all foods and household goods in your grocery store, including:

  • Peanut butter
  • Pizza dough
  • Microwave meals
  • Ice cream
  • Potato chips
  • Instant noodles
  • Chocolate
  • Milk
  • Cookies
  • Margarine
  • Detergent
  • Toothpaste
  • Candles
  • Body lotions
  • Makeup

In some products, palm oil adds creaminess or foaminess. In others, it adds Vitamin A. It stops pizza dough from sticking and, in shampoos, it helps restore hair’s natural oils. Palm oil is used in margarine because it’s solid at room temperature and has no trans fat.

It’s estimated that we each use products with palm oil 11 times a day. It’s tremendously useful, but the manner in which we obtain palm oil is horrifically damaging to the indigenous populations and wildlife.

  • Producers clear cut thousands of acres of tropical rainforests to make way for oil palm tree plantations.
  • Growth of these massive plantations displaces local populations, causing poverty and conflict with palm oil concession companies.
  • Endangered species like the orangutan, Sumatran elephant, Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran rhino and Sumatran tiger are losing their habitats due to palm oil-caused rainforest loss

Orangutans in particular suffer due to palm oil production. Indonesia and Malaysia, the only places where orangutans still survive in the wild, account for 85 percent of the world’s palm oil production. An estimated 50,000 orangutans have died in Indonesia because of palm oil harvesting and production.

What You Can Do

How can you help? Shop for products that use only sustainably produced palm oil. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certifies more than 20 percent of the global palm oil supply.

Buy products carrying the RSPO label or the Green Palm label so you’ll know the palm oil used was produced sustainably or the product is transitioning to sustainability.

Photo credit: Getty Images


hELEN hEARFIELD3 months ago


Lynne Buckley
Lynne Buckley7 months ago

Good news

Leo C
Leo Custer7 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

sue higgins
sue higgins7 months ago

Lets hope that they actually do mean it and not just saying what we want to hear, just because its not on the label doesn't mean its not being used. I would still stay away from these companies until the public can actually see a difference to OUR Rainforests ! Big companies are only in it for big profits and if they can take the pressure off the media in anyway whatsoever they will !

Celine Russo
Celine Russo7 months ago

There's to hope though that we can trust those labels and that they aren't corrupt...

Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hill7 months ago

good news. and try not to buy their products.

hELEN hEARFIELD7 months ago


Alexandra Richards
Alexandra Richards7 months ago

Thank you.

Janis K
Janis K7 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

HEIKKI R7 months ago

thank you