US food and drink giant PepsiCo is introducing stricter rules for the palm oil used in its goods – including a retrospective ban on working with firms with linked to deforestation, Reuters reported on 25 February.

The company has pledged not to purchase palm oil from any direct or indirect supplier involved in deforestation. The new policy also applies to any of PepsiCo’s joint ventures.

The multinational would also be launching initiatives to stop human rights abuses among plantation workers.

In an e-mailed statement, PepsiCo said its goal was to ensure that “all our palm oil is free from deforestation, new developments on peatlands and, exploitation of people.”

PepsiCo’s new policy had been shaped with help from green group Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which had been highlighting issues with palm oil sourcing by major food companies since 2013, Reuters wrote.

In 2019, an investigation by RAN revealed that palm oil from an illegal plantation in an Indonesian rainforest home to endangered orangutans had found its way into the supply chains of major brands including PepsiCo.

According to Robin Averbeck, RAN’s agribusiness campaign director, PepsiCo’s new rules had positioned it as a ‘frontrunner in the industry.”

“If they are implemented and it brings other actors along with them, it could have an enormous impact on the industry,” she told Reuters.