Migros still buying IOI palm oil

This news article was published last week, 23rd June 2010.

SWITZERLAND'S biggest supermarket chain operator Migros did not said it will stop buying palm oil from us, says a spokesperson for IOI Corp Bhd.

In fact, both companies said they will seek to engage with environmental activists who, without evidence or proof, have alleged IOI of illegal land grab and forest burning.

In a statement issued from the Netherlands yesterday, IOI said the allegations surfaced when the Miri High Court declared on March 31 this year, that the villagers had won a suit against the state authorities and IOI over a land dispute.

This case, however, is not over. IOI and the Sarawak government agency Land Custody and Development Authority (Pelita), have filed an appeal. "The court did not allow the natives' claims for a declaratory order to cancel the leases issued for the lands.

The court also did not order vacant possession of the lands to be delivered to the natives on the ground that the native customary rights on the lands can be extinguished by paying compensation to the natives.

"Thirdly, the court did not grant any injunction sought by the natives restraining IOI and Pelita from remaining and continuing its operation on the lands," said IOI.

When contacted by Business Times yesterday, IOI spokesperson said the group's management had contacted Migros recently and the feedback was that Migros will not replace IOI as their supplier without first seeking clarification from IOI.

"Migros and IOI have regular exchanges on sustainability objectives. We both have already engaged to schedule a multi-stakeholder meeting with several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved to discuss the allegations.

"It is very important for IOI and Migros to clarify the current situation and define the next steps," said the spokesperson.

Migros Industries head of food production Robert Keller was recently reported as saying that his company plans to submit a fact-finding request to the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), over the illegal land grab and deforestation allegations by environmental activists.

"Therefore, earlier news reports have wrongly judged IOI over allegations that are not proven," the IOI spokesperson explained.

Currently, IOI has three RSPO-certified plantations in Malaysia. It hopes to receive certification for all of its holdings by the end of next year. In April this year, IOI was the first among RSPO members to offer large-scale segregated palm oil shipment to Europe.

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