The Kraft Heinz Company is Inconsistent with CSPO, Through the Palm Oil Free Label on it’s Products

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The anti-palm oil campaign has been rolling continuously since the 1980s, but has more intensified since palm oil sucesfull to shifted the dominance of soybean oil in the world vegetable oil market. Health, environmental and social issues have become a topics that used by anti-palm oil parties to carry out negative campaigns.

Anti-palm oil NGOs have also intensified pressure on the end user palm oil industry. For example the pressure on the biscuit (food) industry through the publication of an article entitled “Dying for Biscuit” in the BBC media in February 2008. Multinational companies such as Unilever have to face the “Dove is Detroying Rainforest for Palm Oil” campaign in April 2008. Pressure on palm oil products was also felt by other multinational companies such as Nestle in March 2010. The instant noodle industry also faced similar pressures with the publication of an article entitled “Your Instant Ramen Noodles are a Massive Threat to Environment” in July 2015.

The pressure on palm oil-based products has also more intensified, and even these published articles have succeeded in influencing consumers, especially in developed countries such as the European Union and the United States of America to force end user industries to impose mandatory labeling of Palm Oil Free on their products. Not only food products such as butter, margarine, biscuits, chocolate, cereals, ice cream, noodles, but other non-food products such as toilleteries, cosmetics and baby products are also required to label their products with the Palm Oil Free sign.

Labeling food and non-food products with the label palm oil free is clearly no longer an usual anti-palm oil movement. This labeling is already in the realm of boycotting palm oil and even “forbidding” the use of palm oil. With the inclusion of the label of Palm Oil Free means directly or indirectly prohibiting the use of palm oil (not even a drop) as a raw material. Although the mandatory of labeling only applies in developed countries, multinational companies that produce and market these consumer products throughout the world. This means that the palm oil boycott movement will gradually spread all around the world. This of course will threaten the palm oil industry.

Along with the establishment of a certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) system by the Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and similar certification systems such as ISPO in Indonesia and MSPO in Malaysia as well as the efforts of palm oil stakeholders to convince the global market that sustainability indicators are met in palm oil production under the umbrella of the CSPO scheme, the implication is that the Palm Oil Free movement is relatively less intensive as it was before the CSPO scheme.

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Negative Campaign by the Kraft Heinz Company
(Source: bizlaw.id)

But not long ago, the palm oil industry was again hit by a negative campaign by the Kraft Heinz Company, a large US food company. The company has discriminated against palm oil by labeling palm oil free which is embedded in its product, namely Hazelnut Butter which is marketed in Canada.

Seeing this, the Secretariat of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) considers that the Hazelnut Butter product marketing strategy carried out by Kraft Heinz Company by embedding the Palm Oil Free label is considered discriminatory against palm oil and is also assessed spreading misinformation that harms consumers. In addition, the marketing strategy carried out by Kraft Heinz Company is also considered to be injuring and damaging the efforts of palm oil stakeholders around the world in producing and using best quality, healthy and sustainable palm oil. A further implication is that what the company does is at the risk of harming and reducing the welfare of the million people involved in the supply chain as direct labor from oil palm farmers to factory workers, as well as indirect workers who are connected to the palm oil industry.

Following up on this, the CPOPC secretariat officially sent an objection letter on August 4, 2020 in response to the claims of the palm oil free label and discriminatory messages on the Hazelnut Butter product. The CPOPC Secretariat also urged Kraft Heinz Company to remove the Palm Oil Free label on all of its products because this is very misleading to consumers.

As a member of the RSPO, the Kraft Heinz Company should be at the forefront of promoting the production and use of sustainable palm oil. The Kraft Heinz Company should also be fully aware that palm oil has no negative health effects when consumed as part of a balanced diet. The unclear attitude of Kraft Heinz Company is also seen where the company should invite farmers and producers to implement sustainable practices, but at the same time they are boycotting palm oil in its products. The steps taken by Kraft Heinz Company as a member of the RSPO are considered inconsistent and appear to have betrayed the principles of sustainability under the RSPO umbrella.

Kampanye anti sawit tidak hentinya terus bergulir sejak tahun 1980-an, namun semakin intensif sejak minyak sawit terbesar berhasil menggeser dominasi minyak kedelai dalam pasar minyak nabati dunia. Isu kesehatan, lingkungan dan sosial menjadi topik yang digunakan oleh pihak anti sawit untuk melakukan kampanye negatif.

Tekanan yang lebih intensif juga dilakukan oleh LSM anti sawit terhadap industri end user minyak sawit. Misalnya tekanan pada industri biskuit (pangan) melalui terbitnya artikel yang berjudul Dying for Biscuit” di media BBC pada bulan Februari 2008. Perusahaan multinasional seperti Unilever harus menghadapi kampanye “Dove is Detroying Rainforest for Palm Oil” pada April 2008. Tekanan terhadap produk sawit lainnya juga dirasakan oleh perusahan multinasional lainnya seperti Nestle pada Maret 2010. Industri mie instan juga menghadapi tekanan serupa dengan terbitnya artikel yang berjudul “Your Instant Ramen Noodles are a Massive Threat to Environment” pada Juli 2015.

Tekanan terhadap produk berbasis minyak sawit juga semakin intensif dilakukan, bahkan berbagai artikel publikasi tersebut berhasil mempengaruhi konsumen khususnya di negara maju seperti Uni Eropa dan Amerika Serikat untuk memaksa end user industry memberlakukan mandatori labelisasi Palm Oil Free pada produknya. Tidak hanya produk pangan seperti butter, margarin, biskuit, cokelat, sereal, ice cream, mie, namun produk non pangan lainnya seperti produk toilleteries, kosmetik dan produk bayi juga diwajibkan melabelisasi produknya dengan tanda Palm Oil Free.

Labelisasi produk pangan dan non pangan dengan label palm oil free yang demikian jelas bukan lagi gerakan anti sawit biasa. Labelisasi tersebut sudah berada pada ranah boikot minyak sawit bahkan “mengharamkan” penggunan minyak sawit. Dengan pencantuman label Palm Oil Free berarti secara langsung atau tidak langsung melarang penggunaan minyak sawit (setetespun tidak boleh) sebagai bahan baku. Meskipun mandatori labelisasi tersebut hanya berlaku di negara maju, namun perusahaan multinasional yang memproduksi dan memasarkan consumer product tersebut ke seluruh dunia. Artinya gerakan boikot minyak sawit tersebut secara lambat laun akan semakin menyebar ke seluruh dunia. Hal ini tentu saja akan mengancam industri minyak sawit.

Seiring dengan dibentuknya sistem sertifikasi minyak sawit berkelanjutan (Certified Sustainable Palm Oil/CSPO) oleh Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) dan sistem sertifikasi sejenis seperti ISPO di Indonesia dan MSPO di Malaysia serta upaya stakeholder sawit yang meyakinkan pasar global terpenuhinya indikator keberlanjutan dalam produksi minyak sawit dibawah payung skema CSPO,  berimplikasi pada gerakan Palm Oil Free relatif tidak terlalu intensif seperti dahulu sebelum ada skema CSPO.

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Kampanye negatif oleh Kraft Heinz Company (Source: bizlaw.id)

Namun belum lama ini, industri kelapa sawit lagi-lagi diserang kampanye negatif oleh Kraft Heinz Company yang merupakan perusahaan besar makanan Amerika Serikat. Perusahaan tersebut telah  mendiskriminasikan kelapa sawit dengan melakukan labelisasi palm oil free yang disematkan pada produknya yakni Hazelnut Butter yang dipasarkan di Kanada.

Melihat hal tersebut, Sekretariat Dewan Negara-Negara Penghasil Minyak Sawit (Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries/CPOPC) memandang bahwa strategi pemasaran produk Hazelnut Butter yang dilakukan oleh Kraft Heinz Company dengan menyematkan label Palm Oil Free, dianggap diskriminatif terhadap minyak sawit serta juga dinilai menyebarkan informasi yang salah yang merugikan konsumen. Selain itu, strategi pemasaran yang dilakukan oleh Kraft Heinz Company juga dinilai menciderai dan merusak upaya para stakeholder sawit di seluruh dunia dalam memproduksi dan menggunakan kelapa sawit yang berkualitas, sehat serta berkelanjutan. Implikasi lebih lanjutnya adalah apa yang dilakukan oleh perusahaan tersebut berisko merugikan dan menurunkan kesejahteraan juta orang yang terlibat dalam supply chain sebagai tenaga kerja langsung dari mulai petani sawit hingga buruh di pabrik, maupun tenaga kerja tidak langsung yang saling terhubung dengan industri sawit.

Menindaklanjuti hal tersebut, sekretariat CPOPC dengan resmi mengirimkan surat keberatan pada 4 Agustus 2020 sebagai respon atas klaim label palm oil free dan pesan diskriminatif pada produk Hazelnut Butter tersebut. Sekretariat CPOPC juga mendesak Kraft Heinz Company untuk mencabut label Palm Oil Free tersebut di semua produknya karena hal tersebut sangat menyesatkan konsumen.

Sebagai anggota RSPO, Kraft Heinz Company semestinya berada di garis terdepan dalam mempromosikan produksi dan penggunaan minyak sawit berkelanjutan. Kraft Heinz Company seharusnya juga mengetahui sepenuhnya bahwa minyak sawit tidak memiliki efek kesehatan negatif jika dikonsumsi sebagai bagian dari diet seimbang. Ketidakjelasan sikap Kraft Heinz Company juga terlihat dimana seharusnya perusahaan mengajak petani dan produsen untuk menerapkan praktek keberlanjutan, namun di saat yang bersama mereka memboikot minyak sawit dalam produknya. Langkah yang diambil oleh Kraft Heinz Company sebagai anggota RSPO dianggap tidak konsisten dan terkesan berkhianat terhadap prinsip keberlanjutan dibawah payung RSPO.

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