Nestle: We’ll decide after audit

NESTLE S.A., the world’s biggest food company, will resume buying palm oil from PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology if the independent audits show Greenpeace’s allegations of deforestation are baseless.

In April, Sinar Mas announced appointment of two independent auditors, Control Union Certification and BSI Group, to address claims that its operations contribute to deforestation. The audit is in process and Nestlé is part of the committee overseeing this audit.

“If Sinar Mas, or anybody else, does a proper job on quality and traceability...of course we will buy from them. Once the audit is completed, we’ll decide then,” Nestlé executive vice president of operations Jose Lopez told reporters at a Palm Oil and Biodiversity forum in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

Nestlé has done responsible sourcing audits to ensure compliance to its Supplier Code since 2009 through a Supplier Ethical Data Exchange which enables businesses to share ethical data on their supply chains. It buys 320,000 tonnes of palm oil — roughly 0.7 per cent of global production.

An active RSPO member, it pledges to source all of its palm oil needs from environmentally friendly sources by 2015. Currently 18 per cent of its palm oil purchases are certified sustainable and this is expected to hit 50 per cent by the end of 2011.

Also present at the forum were Malaysian Palm Oil Council chief executive Tan Sri Yusof Basiron, WWF-Malaysia chief technical officer Surin Suksuwan, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) secretary general Dr Vengeta Rao and United Plantations Bhd group manager of human resources, environment, safety and health C. Mathews.

The forum was moderated by television station Astro Awani anchorman Kamarul Bahrin Haron.

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