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Global agribusiness giant Cargill has suspended palm oil purchases from Malaysia’s Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (Sime Darby) due to concerns over the use of forced labour, Bloomberg News reported.

In an e-mailed response to questions, Sime Darby said that, since 25 February, Cargill had suspended all new sourcing of palm oil and derivative products from the company.

Sime Darby did not give a reason for the halt but said that it is in talks with Cargill, according to the 18 April Bloomberg News report.

In late January, the US Customs and Borders Protection said it would seize Sime Darby’s palm oil and related goods as it had sufficient information to determine that the company’s products were made using convicts, forced or indentured labour, the report said.

Sime Darby said it had recently taken measures to improve labour rights.

Cargill was not available for comment at the time of publication, Bloomberg News said.

Italian confectionery giant Ferrero has also stopped sourcing palm oil from Sime Darby, according to a Reuters report on 15 April, over concerns on the use of forced labour.

“On 6 April, we requested all our direct suppliers to stop supplying Ferrero with palm oil and palm kernel oil sourced indirectly from Sime Darby, until further notice," Ferrero told Reuters by email.

Sime Darby told Reuters that Ferrero was not a customer.

Leading chocolate manufacturer Hershey and General Mills had also halted palm oil purchases from Sime Darby, Reuters said. Sime Darby said Hershey and US food giant General Mills were not customers.

According to its website, Sime Darby is the world’s largest producer of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO).