Mon, 22 Mar 2010

Palm oil farmers in at least 20 provinces are prepared to boycott Nestle products if the company honors its commitment to stop buying crude palm oil from PT Sinar Mas, an industry association said.

“About 10 million oil palm farmers in 20 Indonesian provinces have stated their readiness to boycott Nestle products. Apkasindo [Indonesian Palm Oil Growers Association] is now preparing to draw up a list of Nestle products on the market,” Apka­sindo secretary general Asmar Arsjad said on Saturday.

Asmar said Apkasindo had obtained oral statements of support from its regional chapters, and its central executive board would meet today to send official letters asking for their support and participation in the boycott of Nestle products.

The boycott is a response to Switzerland-based Nestle’s announcement last week that it would terminate its purchasing contract with Sinar Mas over allegations by Greenpeace that the company contributed to the destruction of the nation’s rainforests and peatlands.

Asmar said the move by Nestle, the world’s largest food group, would devastate the livelihoods of Indonesian palm oil growers.

Laksamana Adiyaksa, treasurer of the North Sumatra chapter of the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki), said the boycott threat “should be reacted to wisely by all stakeholders.”

“It does not mean that we are afraid or very concerned about the threat but it should be discussed in a businesslike way,” he said.

He said the government should also become involved in efforts to mediate with Nestle, and claimed domestic palm oil producers were making greater efforts to protect the environment under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). “Nestle should not have acted unilaterally,” he said.

Earlier, Irfan Mutyara, chairman of the North Sumatra chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said other buyers would step in to buy Indonesian palm oil. “If a buyer boycotts a product, the producer can do likewise against the buyer’s product and ask domestic consumers to follow suit,” he said.