- Environmentalists are protesting today outside Kellogg's corporate headquarters, seeking a promise from the cereal maker that it will stop using palm oil.
- Kellogg's recently incrured the wrath of activists when it signed a sourcing deal with Wilmar International, the world's largest trader of palm oil. Wilmar has been named the "world's least sustainable company" by Newsweek for contributing to deforestation of the rainforests.
- The protest comes just days after Unilever, the world's largest user of palm oil, committed to making a number of sustainability improvements regarding the oil - promising to cut suppliers and be fully traceable by the end of 2014.
This is a pubic-relations nightmare for Kellogg. Consider just two factors here. First, Kellogg's most recognized and beloved brand symbol is Tony the Tiger. Second, the palm-oil crisis is rapidly contributing to the demise of the Sumatran tiger. With only 400 of those animals believed to be left, we see an ever-escalating battle in the years ahead in which the tiger count grows lower while more consumers come to associate those missing animals with the cartoon mascot. Kellogg needs to find a way out of this and fast :changing suppliers, finding alternative ingredients, pressuring Willmar, anything.
One place to start might be the World Bank's BioCarbon Fund. Unilever, Bunge and Mondelez International have all pledged support to the effort to save forests and create new sourcing environments for palm oil, cocoa, sugar beets, etc.