Can PepsiCo Come Through with their Palm Oil Promises?

Updated on November 28, 2018
Organisations can instantly become saints in the eyes of the media if they add the word “eco-friendly” to their vocabulary. Yet despite their promises of cutting back on greenhouse gases, or boycotting suppliers that exploit human rights, sometimes the promises are nothing but words. Words uttered to keep their precious sales from plummeting.
PepsiCo are one of the many organisations that have adopted an eco-friendly conscience, and one of their main desires in their 2015 Action Plan plan is to make sure that their sourcing of palm oil does not contribute to deforestation. Note that they do not promise to stop using palm oil, but that their method of sourcing will come from more “sustainable” means.
Okay, this is better than nothing, but is it realistic? Can they do this without being un-environentally friendly in other areas? Without breaking human rights violations in the process?

Via Flickr Creative Commins (Commercial Use Allowed)
Via Flickr Creative Commins (Commercial Use Allowed) | Source
According to Sustainable Brands, PepsiCo purchases over 427,500 tonnes of palm oil per year, but even with PepsiCo's new plan, it's nearly impossible for us as consumers to work out what percentage of this number comes from sustainable means. I mean heck, PepsiCo apparently doesn't even know.
The action plan has a number of admirable and useful goals for PepsiCo, but considering a lot of these goals are supposed to be accomplished by 2016, I fail to see how this can be done cleanly. To have every supply chain mapped to the mill of origin, to have every partner and direct supplier be a member of RSPO and CDP, to have their suppliers minimize the need to expand their farmlands, all by the end of the year, doesn't sound too doable. Particularly since PepsiCo have a worrying track record when it comes to their Palm Oil use, and their carbon footprints.
And what do they even mean “by 2016”? By the end of the year? At any point during the year? Should they have done it all by now? The document is vague, and leaves so much room for interpretation and presumption.

What do you think?

See results
I suppose the key phrase that they keep using in the document is “begin a dialogue,” because what they actually plan is to just start up a conversation about these issues, rather than actually stop damaging the environment. In other words; anyone can ask their suppliers to minimize farming in vulnerable areas, but not all of them will actually do it.
This is why praising companies for their new eco-friendly ways is dangerous, because they may not actually be doing what they promise, or maybe they will, but there's no telling whether they'll go about it in a dangerous and environmentally destructive way.

One of the aspects of the action plan that sticks out to me is the fact that PepsiCo promises to “ask suppliers to identify the use of derivatives in our ingredients,” which is so well worded that it makes the reader feel included in the process. But just because PepsiCo want to be told these things, doesn't mean that we as consumers will ever be told ourselves.
On top of this, the final few lines of the action report also leaves itself open for interpretation. PepsiCo states that they will “periodically report on our progress against our policies, commitments, and this action plan.” Now this sounds better, but again, report to whom? And where are the reports so far? I also notice that there is no deadline for this promise, which in itself doesn't feel right to me.

This vague and lazy document is quite typical of PepsiCo, who have come under fire in the past for not coming through with their promises. As one of PepsiCo's biggest critics, the Rainforest Action Network created the #ChallengePepsi campaign in 2015 after discovering a problematic loophole in PepsiCo's so called anti-palm oil promises. According to RAN's report, it was discovered that PepsiCo’s actually exempts Indofood, their joint-partner, from their new eco-friendly requirements.
This is a clear indication that whatever Indofood is doing, is something PepsiCo cannot live without. And due to research on their palm oil activities, we already know Indofood are strong contributors to deforestation. If this doesn't answer the question about PepsiCo's ability to sustain their promises, then I don't know what would.

Since then, the only change to this set up that has been outlined in their more recent action plan, is that PepsiCo has “Began communication with IndoFood JV (IFL) on sourcing only sustainable palm oil for PepsiCo products, and following the company’s policies and programs for all PepsiCo products.” It may have only been a year since this action plan was written, but PepsiCo has been saying this sort of thing for years, and there's nothing really of substance being said, other than “we'll have a chat about it amongst ourselves.”
We need to keep an eye out for any official reports if they are made public, or lack there of. Because if we don't see any documentation, and more importantly if we don't see results, then there's a chance nothing is actually being done to help the environment at all.
PepsiCo's unrealistic and in-genuine action plan may lead to small changes for the social and physical environment, but we urge readers and consumers of their products to do as much research as they can before deciding to support their so called “co-friendly” cause. Because no large and prosperous organisation is going to give us an honest answer about their true intentions.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)