Nestlé suspends palm oil sourcing from Guatemalan company tied to corruption and ecocide
Victory for U.S. and Guatemalan grassroots activists over corporate candy giant
BERKELEY, CA — Following last week’s news that Guatemalan palm oil company REPSA had been charged in a high profile case of corruption, and pressure from Friends of the Earth and allies, Nestlé has quietly announced that it will phase out its purchasing of palm oil from REPSA.
Since 2015, REPSA has been linked to a massive spill of palm oil effluent into Guatemala’s Pasion River and to the killing of indigenous community leader Rigoberto Lima Choc. Earlier this year, news broke that several REPSA executives were subject to arrest orders in a high-profile tax fraud investigation in Guatemala. Following the corruption scandal and the public scrutiny it engendered, Nestlé became the latest company to take definitive action to cut ties to REPSA. Nestlé’s decision follows other companies’, including Cargill and Wilmar International, who severed ties with REPSA late last year after a two-year campaign by Friends of the Earth and allies in the U.S. and Guatemala.
Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Director at Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement in response:
Nestlé’s decision to cut ties with REPSA is a step in the right direction and a victory for all the activists who have fought for years to bring REPSA’s actions to light. It is frustrating, however, that it took charges of corruption and bribery for Nestlé to sever its relationship with REPSA, despite widespread public knowledge of REPSA’s actions, and the atmosphere of violence and impunity that permeates the region.
We are urging all other companies who still have connections to REPSA to follow Nestlé’s lead and stop sourcing palm oil from REPSA and its parent conglomerate Grupo Olmeca. Grassroots activists helped expose REPSA’s crimes and pressure corporations to cut ties with REPSA, and those same activists will continue to call out corporations who still have business ties to this destructive company.
Many other popular brands have not yet announced whether or not they continue sourcing from REPSA. Colgate-Palmolive, Conagra Brands, Dunkin’ Brands, Grupo Bimbo, The Hershey Company, Kellogg Company, The Kraft Heinz Company, Krispy Kreme, Mars, Mondelēz, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Unilever are among the brands may still be sourcing from REPSA or from suppliers that continue to do business with REPSA or the company’s parent conglomerate, Grupo Hame/Grupo Olmeca.