Palm oil

No country produces more palm oil than Indonesia, no island more than Sumatra, and no province more than Riau. Little remains of this originally biodiversity hotspot with vast areas of natural forest, except oceans of acacia and palm and almost two hundred mills to process their wood and fruit.

The two clans of the paper industry also play in palm - Asian Agri and Apical of Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) and Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) of Sinar Mas Group (SMG) - though the playing field is much more diverse with Wilmar, Musim Mas, and other major players.

Eighty eight Crude Palm Oil (CPO) mills owned by RGE/Asian Agri, SMG/GAR, Wilmar, Musim Mas and 17 other corporate groups surround a tiny Tesso Nilo national park in the center of the island and Bukit Tigapuluh in the south. They provide the all essential market for the “Wildcutters”, syndicates illegally cutting down natural forests inside government protected areas and its “forest estate” where oil palm plantations are considered illegal.

Yellow highlighted 88 CPO mills may buy illegally produced palm fruit (fresh fruit bunch, FFB) from Tesso Nilo and Bukit Tigapuluh National Parks and the surrounding “forest estate”. In fact, 19 of them were confirmed by EoF to buy illegal FFB. For more information on CPO mills and the routes along which EoF followed the trucks with illegal fruit, go to 2. Palm oil section in the EoF interactive map.

EoF has published its “Wildcutters” series of investigations since 2013. It’s 2016 “No One is Safe” report demonstrated how CPO tainted by illegally grown palm fruit from government-protected areas in some of the last remaining habitats of critically endangered Sumatran tigers, elephants, and orangutans entered the supply chains of several of the world’s most well-known palm oil suppliers: Wilmar, SMG/GAR, RGE (Asian Agri and Apical) and Musim Mas.

Despite their corporate commitments to stop deforestation, none of these groups has barred legally questionable fruit and oil from their supply chains. The failure of these groups to trace the fresh fruit and processed oil they buy back to the plantations of origin virtually assures that many of the world’s palm oil products are contaminated by illegal FFB and tainted oil that contributed to the destruction of Indonesia’s tropical forests.