Of Orangutans and Chainsaws: Cargill, Inc. Confronts The Rainforest Action Network’s Palm Oil Advocacy

Case Abstract

From October 2007 till September 2010, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), an environment and sustainability-focused nongovernmental organization (NGO) mounted a public campaign against Cargill, the United States-based agribusiness company. The campaign advocated the production and sale of sustainable palm oil because traditional palm oil cultivation destroyed rainforests and caused social upheaval.

By 2011, RAN had forced many of Cargill’s customers (Unilever, Nestle, General Mills, and the Girl Scouts of America) to move to sustainable palm oil.  However, Cargill was adamant in its stance that, as a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), it adhered to the organization’s Principles and Criteria for palm oil.  It chose not to respond to RAN’s activism other than to publicly deny any wrong doing. The case is set at a point in late September 2011 when Indonesia, the world’s leading palm oil producer, announced the decision to leave the RSPO.  Anticipating an adverse reaction from RAN, since Cargill sourced much of its palm oil from Indonesia, Cargill CEO, Gregory Page, has to make a decision.

Author: Ram Subramanian
Institution: Montclair State University, USA
Competition Year2012
Place3rd Place
TrackCorporate Sustainability
Key WordsSustainable Palm Oil, Cargill, Agribusiness
Target AudienceUndergraduates, MBA
Permission RightsCopies of this case are available for purchase at Harvard Business Review store
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oikos International

posted June 30, 2012

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