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Greenpeace unveils a new Oreo flavor: Deforestation

The environmental activist group is using the stunt to take Oreo parent Mondelez to task for its lack of action in cleaning up its palm oil supply chain.

Greenpeace unveils a new Oreo flavor: Deforestation
[Photo: courtesy of Matt Marton/Greenpeace]

As classic flavors go, the Oreo cookie may be one of the most original. On paper, it’s just vanilla icing sandwiched between two chocolate wafers. But it’s oh-so-much more than that. Beyond its OG form, the brand has expanded to the outer regions of taste and flavor experimentation. Depending on what country you live in, you could have Birthday Cake-flavored Oreos, Green Tea-flavored Oreos, Banana Split Creme Oreos, or Coconut Delight Oreos, among a laundry list of others.

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But today, Greenpeace unveiled its own new Oreo flavor: Deforestation. The environmental activist group delivered a five-foot-wide Oreo to the global headquarters of Oreo parent Mondelēz International in Deerfield, Ill. The giant replica cookie had its top layer twisted off to reveal a filling that was an illustration of a bulldozer clearing a forest with animals fleeing. The truck carrying it had a banner that said, “Tell Oreo to Drop Dirty Palm Oil.”

Greenpeace is accusing Mondelēz International of dragging its corporate heels when it comes to cleaning up its supply chain. According to the organization, despite Mondelēz committing in 2010 to eliminate deforestation and exploitation from its business practices by 2020, the company is far from meeting its deadline. Greenpeace research found that out of 25 of the worst palm oil producer groups in Indonesia, 22 are still in Mondelez’s supply chain data for 2017. And between 2015 and 2017, those 22 palm oil companies destroyed over 70,000 hectares of rainforests in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

In a statement, Greenpeace USA’s senior forests campaigner Diana Ruiz said, “Oreo is the world’s best selling cookie, and is an iconic and beloved brand. But no one bites into an Oreo expecting to drive wildlife like orangutans towards extinction or to cook our climate. Years ago, Mondelēz pledged to keep deforestation out of its supply chain, but hasn’t kept its promise. Time is running out for Indonesia’s forests and entire populations of species that call the forest home. You don’t need to destroy forests to make palm oil. Companies like Mondelēz need to drop dirty palm oil suppliers, starting with Wilmar, until it can prove its palm oil is clean and not destroying forests that are vital to people and the planet.”

In September, Greenpeace published a report called “Final Countdown: Now or Never To Reform The Palm Oil Industry,” an investigation of Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader, and its links to rainforest destruction. Just last week, U.K. company Iceland Foods worked with Greenpeace to repurpose its animated short “Rang-Tan,” about the effects of deforestation on orangutans, as its Xmas ad.

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For its part, Mondelēz this week renewed its call for palm oil suppliers to work faster to help it reach its goal of 100% sustainability and 100% transparency of its palm oil supply chain, and announced it had dumped 12 suppliers for not improving fast enough. The company’s global director of sustainability, Jonathan Horrell, said in a statement released yesterday that Mondelēz International remains fully committed to driving change in the palm oil sector and that its actions against those 12 suppliers reflect that commitment. “We will continue to pursue existing and new initiatives that seek to drive effective change across palm oil-growing communities,” he said. “The company understands that this complex challenge can only be solved through collaboration with all actors in the palm oil supply chain, from growers to suppliers and buyers, as well as local and national government and non-governmental organizations.”

Mondelēz International hasn’t yet returned Fast Company requests for comment on Greenpeace’s proposed new Oreo flavor.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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