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Bite-size Case Study

Cargill: the importance of transparency in environmental policy

Published on December 31, 2017 Originally recorded 2014   4 min
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Cargill was confronted with greenwashing accusations concerning palm oil. Before we get to the key challenges of Cargill, let's look at the profile of this company.
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Cargill is a US-based agribusiness company. It is globally active in four major segments: agriculture, food, financial, industrial. It's the largest privately held corporation in the US with revenue close to $120 billion. It is also very influential player in several markets. For example in the US, 25 percent of grain exports and 22 percent of meat market is represented by Cargill. In Argentina, it is the largest product exporter. And in Thailand, it's the largest poultry producer. Now, let's look at the challenges of Cargill.
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Cargill is one of the world's largest palm oil producer sources. Palm oil production often is unsustainable due to environmental and social problems. In Malaysia and Indonesia, the rainforest is cut down by loggers and then quickly palm oil plantations are being put up, producing of course unsustainable palm oil. In response to this logging of the rainforest, Cargill founded the roundtable for sustainable palm oil. This organization developed a certification system. However, there was quickly criticism and greenwashing accusations since it was a voluntary and low engagement organization. The main attacker was the NGO Rainforest Action Network, RAN. RAN creates public awareness for the issue through various actions to then negotiate sustainable solutions in the interest of their broad stakeholders.
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Cargill: the importance of transparency in environmental policy

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