Our Work in Palm Oil

Articles, Reports, and Tools on the Palm Oil Industry

Featured Work

New: Toolkit for Palm Oil Producers on Labor Rights: Knowledge and tools to help build a social compliance program

Case Study: Improving Management of Human Rights Risk in the Extended Palm Oil Supply Chain

Labor and Human Rights Progress in Sustainable Palm Oil Production

Background

Fifty million tons of palm oil are produced each year, and that volume is growing exponentially. Demand for palm oil continues to rise across the globe, as an affordable cooking oil, an input to an estimated 50 percent of grocery products, and an emerging biofuel.

But the production of palm oil has been linked to troubling social and environmental problems, including the presence of forced labor and human trafficking in its supply chain. Verité is combating these abuses, and promoting ethical labor practice in palm oil production, by helping companies and other stakeholders understand the problem, identify it in the supply chain, and build effective solutions. Download our Palm Oil Flier which provides an overview of our program.

Palm Oil Flier
Palm Oil Primer

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What is Verité Doing?

Verité seeks to help companies and other stakeholders respond to these issues through a series of key steps, beginning with understanding and analysis, and ending with direct action to resolve problems.

Verité served as a founding member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) human rights working group, and actively participated in the RSPO Principles and Criteria Review Taskforce to help embed stronger labor, employment, human rights and business ethics provisions in this multistakeholder initiative.

Verité offers services to assist retailers, brands and buyers, traders, growers, and others that wish to eliminate the risk of labor abuse and lead the field in ethical palm oil production, including:

Assessment. Verité’s shadow audits and independent assessments help companies identify risks of labor abuse that they face in palm oil production, and improve management systems to better protect workers from these abuses.

Training. Verité boosts critical competencies at all levels of the supply chain with its training programs, which focus on the root causes of labor abuses and impart the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to resolve these abuses.

Resources. Verité develops customized tools and learning modules to assist companies in protecting workers from labor abuses in the production of palm oil.

Articles & Papers

These publications focus on risks of labor abuse in palm oil production and Verité’s research in Southeast Asia and Latin America:

A Brief Guide to Ethical Recruitment in the Palm Oil Sector

A new (2021) white paper from Verité reviews the concept of ethical recruitment and the “employer pays principle,” and explains why ethical recruitment is so critical for the palm oil sector. The white paper also reviews recent regulatory developments, and explains what palm oil buyers and growers need to do to comply with relevant requirements.

Review of the Nestlé Palm Oil Upstream Supply Chain Management Program in Malaysia and Indonesia

This public report summarizes a program assessment Verité carried out in 2018 and 2019 of Nestlé’s approach to upstream management of its palm oil supply chain in Malaysia and Indonesia, in collaboration with two of Nestlé’s Tier 1 palm oil suppliers. The review involved comprehensive labor assessments of seven mills and 11 estates, employing about 4,400 workers. Of these, Verité interviewed 97 mill workers and 113 estate workers; management interviews and document review were also conducted. The findings and recommendations resulting from this research have informed the 2021 update of the Nestlé Action Plan on Labour Rights in Palm Oil Supply Chains.

Case Study: Improving Management of Human Rights Risk in the Extended Palm Oil Supply Chain

This case study describes a multi-year collaboration between Verité and Wilmar International Limited to strengthen Wilmar’s capacity to manage human rights risk in its palm oil supply chain in Malaysia, where Wilmar refineries largely source from mills and plantations not owned by the company. The work, which was sponsored by Mars, Incorporated, involved assessing system gaps and risk sources, and training the company to take more active control of risk management, thereby closing the gap between practices in its own operations and those of its extended suppliers.


Understanding Labor Risks in Palm Oil Production

This primer explains forced labor and human trafficking as it relates to the palm oil industry and identifies common indicators of the abuse workers endure. It also sheds light on steps companies can take to combat these problems in their supply chains. 

Research Brief: Findings from Multi-Country Case Studies

This flier provides an overview of Verité’s Program on Ethical Labor Practices in Palm Oil Production which seeks to help companies and other stakeholders respond to issues pertaining to labor conditions in the palm oil supply chain through a series of key steps.

Labor and Human Rights Risk Analysis of Ecuador’s Palm Oil Sector

There has been very little research on conditions in palm oil production in Ecuador, Latin America’s largest producer. Research carried out by Verité and REACH (Research-Education-Action-Change) found a number of risks including indicators of forced labor, unethical recruitment and hiring practices, wage and hour violations, child labor, discrimination against women and minorities, environmental damage, and displacement.

Risk of Labor Abuse in Guatemalan Palm Oil Production: How Should Companies Respond?

As Verité’s report demonstrates, companies in the Guatemalan palm oil sector operate in a difficult environment in which preexisting land conflicts, weak government capacity for protection and enforcement, and unscrupulous labor contractors and criminal actors can contribute to a risk of land grabs and the exploitation of workers. Verité’s research found evidence of improved protections for workers in some parts of the palm sector due to government and private voluntary initiatives. However, there is still a high level of vulnerability, and problems persist. 

Sustainable Palm Oil? Promoting New Measures to Combat Risks of Forced Labor and Human Trafficking in Palm Oil Supply Chains

This white paper shines a light on core labor problems associated with palm oil production, and presents solutions for business and other stakeholders. Verité recommends a comprehensive supply chain assessments, training and capacity building, grievance mechanisms, policy advocacy and stakeholder dialogue.

Q&A with Daryll Delgado, Manager of Research and Stakeholder Engagement at Verité Southeast Asia

Click here to read this Q&A about Verité’s experience in the palm oil supply chain, and find recommendations for companies on how best to detect risks of forced labor and human trafficking.

Labor and Human Rights Progress in Sustainable Palm Oil Production

Bad for the Environment, Bad for Labor

New Principles and Guidance for Responsible Palm Oil Production

Progress in Palm Oil Production? Recent Steps to Advance Labor Rights in the Industry

Bloomberg Businessweek Uncovers Human Rights Abuses in Palm Oil Industry

Risk of Labor Abuse in Guatemalan Palm Oil Production: How Should Companies Respond?

Tools

New: Toolkit for Palm Oil Producers on Labor Rights
This toolkit was developed to help equip palm oil producers who are looking to build a social compliance program with basic knowledge and tools.

The toolkit is available in Bahasa, English, and Spanish languages in both an interactive online format and as a downloadable file, and was developed with the generous support of Mars, Incorporated and Nestlé. See the toolkit >>

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