Goodman Fielder Connected to One of the Largest Cases of Illegal Rainforest Clearance in Indonesia

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Americas & Asia

April 11, 2018

New report exposes connections to company controlled by notorious Indonesian business tycoon, knowingly clear-cutting tropical rainforests for palm oil development

Melbourne, VIC - A new report exposes one of the largest cases in recent years of ongoing, illegal clearance of tropical rainforests on the island of Borneo, Indonesia. Currently, approximately 10,000 hectares of peat forest have been cleared illegally for future palm oil plantations, despite Indonesian regulations and commitments[1] made by Goodman Fielder to address its connections to peat development and deforestation.

Two palm oil plantation companies are responsible for the clearance, and both are controlled by or associated with business tycoon Mr. Anthoni Salim. Mr. Salim heads Indonesia’s largest conglomerate, The Salim Group and is the Director and Chairman of First Pacific[2]. First Pacific is a 50/50 owner of Goodman Fielder, alongside Wilmar the palm oil giant and owner of CSR Sugar.

“Consumers across Australia are demanding deforestation-free products, and have called on Goodman Fielder to cut its ties to the destruction of Indonesia’s precious rainforests,” said Nick Haines with SumOfUs. “This report exposes the truth that the palm oil promises made by the company behind some of Australia’s favourite brands have been nothing but smoke and mirrors.”

The Salim Group was made aware of the ongoing deforestation in February 2016, but failed to intervene despite repeated government instructions to halt peat forest development. Instead, as the report shows, one of the subsidiary companies had the Indonesian government’s peatland moratorium map changed, even as the maps prepared by the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) marked most of the land bank as “peatlands prioritized for protection.”

“This is clear evidence of shady business dealings and inaction at the highest levels of the business, all while tropical rainforests continue to fall for Conflict Palm Oil,” said Gemma Tillack, Forest Policy Director with Rainforest Action Network (RAN). “Goodman Fielder’s reputation, and the homegrown image it tries to sell alongside its brands Meadow Fresh, Helga's and Wonder White, will remain in question until its owner The Salim Group commits to deforestation-free development and enforces the same standard across all its business.”  

Goodman Fielder has faced criticism over its palm oil sourcing in the past. The company responded to pressure from SumOfUs by quietly updating is palm oil policy online late last year, saying that it was beginning to enforce a “No Deforestation, No Peatland, and No Exploitation” policy. This latest report shows that despite this commitment, it has maintained a connection to deforestation at an extreme scale.

The Salim Group is similarly marred by ongoing associations with the exploitation of workers on its palm oil plantations[3] and this isn’t the first time the business dealings of Mr. Salim have come into question.

The business empire is split into publicly listed companies controlled by The Salim Group that have declared, although failed to uphold, commitments to transparency and sustainability, and Salim-related shadow companies––or “business-on-the-side” companies as they are known in Indonesia––that continue to clear tropical forests and drain protected peatlands.

Peat forests are protected by Indonesian legal regulation because of high fire risk––burning peat is almost impossible to put out––and their importance in global climate regulation. Peatlands are critical carbon sinks, safely storing greenhouse gases. Each hectare of tropical peat drained for plantation development emits an average of 55 metric tons of CO2 every year, roughly equivalent to burning more than 6,000 gallons of gasoline. The 10,000 ha of peatland clearance is equivalent to 550,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions every year. For comparison, the average passenger vehicle emits about 5 metric tons of CO2 each year.

The report, prepared based on research compiled by AidEnvironment, was commissioned by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN), and SumOfUs.

**High quality drone images and satellite images are available on request.**

For more information, or for interview with a SumOfUs or Rainforest Action Network spokesperson, please contact Yasmina Dardari at yasmina@unbendablemedia.com.

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Notes to Editor:

Read the full report here: www.ran.org/salim

The report looks at the deforestation activity of two palm oil plantation companies operating in the Sintang District, on the island of Borneo, Indonesia.

The two plantation companies are PT Duta Rendra Mulya (PT DRM)––which is majority owned by Mr. Anthoni Salim––and PT Sawit Khatulistiwa Lestari (PT SKL)––associated with Mr. Salim through business associates.

10,000 hectares of the most significant peat forest of the Sintang District of Borneo, called the Ketungau peat swamp, has been cleared––roughly the same size as 10,000 rugby fields––for future palm oil development.

Mr. Anthoni Salim, Indonesia’s fourth richest man according to Forbes, and his

business associates have faced scrutiny in the past. Mr. Salim is well known for his ownership of various publicly listed companies (First Pacific, Indofood Agri, Salim Ivomas Pratama, London Sumatera) but he is also known to hold stakes, often concealed through several layers of ownership, in a host of privately owned plantation companies that continue to clear tropical forest and peatlands despite government regulation and corporate policies prohibiting such development.

A summary of the findings of this report was sent to Mr. Salim, members of his management teams and the executive director of PT Indofood Agri for their response. No response was received from them at the time of writing.

Contacts:  

Goodman Fielder:  Ra Fletcher, Media officer, ra.fletcher@goodmanfielder.co.nz

Anthoni Salim - The Salim Group

Corporate Headquarters: Sudirman Plaza, Jakarta, Indonesia 12910

Phone: 62 21 5795 8822

anthoni.salim@indofood.co.id

First Pacific:  Investor and Media Relations - John Ryan, Head of Investor Relations, Executive Vice President, Group Corporate Communications johnryan@firstpacific.com

Wilmar: media@wilmar.com.sg