Our Work in Palm Oil

Fifty million tons of palm oil are produced each year, and that volume is growing exponentially. Demand for palm oil continues to rise across the globe, as an affordable cooking oil, an input to an estimated 50 percent of grocery products, and an emerging biofuel.

But the production of palm oil has been linked to troubling social and environmental problems, including the presence of forced labor and human trafficking in its supply chain. Verité is combating these abuses, and promoting ethical labor practice in palm oil production, by helping companies and other stakeholders understand the problem, identify it in the supply chain, and build effective solutions. Download our Palm Oil Flier which provides an overview of our program.

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These publications focus on risks of labor abuse in palm oil production and Verité’s research in Southeast Asia and Latin America:

Understanding Labor Risks in Palm Oil Production

This primer explains forced labor and human trafficking as it relates to the palm oil industry and identifies common indicators of the abuse workers endure. It also sheds light on steps companies can take to combat these problems in their supply chains. 

Research Brief: Findings from Multi-Country Case Studies

This flier provides an overview of Verité’s Program on Ethical Labor Practices in Palm Oil Production which seeks to help companies and other stakeholders respond to issues pertaining to labor conditions in the palm oil supply chain through a series of key steps.

What Should Companies Do?

Labor and Human Rights Risk Analysis of Ecuador’s Palm Oil Sector

This report is another important contribution to the literature on human and labor rights risks in palm oil production globally. Thus far, there has been very little research on conditions in palm oil production in Ecuador, Latin America’s largest producer. Research carried out by Verité and REACH (Research-Education-Action-Change) found a number of risks including indicators of forced labor, unethical recruitment and hiring practices, wage and hour violations, child labor, discrimination against women and minorities, environmental damage, and displacement. For more information, along with recommendations for action, please see the full report.

Risk of Labor Abuse in Guatemalan Palm Oil Production: How Should Companies Respond?

As Verité’s report demonstrates, companies in the Guatemalan palm oil sector operate in a difficult environment in which preexisting land conflicts, weak government capacity for protection and enforcement, and unscrupulous labor contractors and criminal actors can contribute to a risk of land grabs and the exploitation of workers. Verité’s research found evidence of improved protections for workers in some parts of the palm sector due to government and private voluntary initiatives. However, there is still a high level of vulnerability, and problems persist. 

Sustainable Palm Oil? Promoting New Measures to Combat Risks of Forced Labor and Human Trafficking in Palm Oil Supply Chains

This white paper shines a light on core labor problems associated with palm oil production, and presents solutions for business and other stakeholders. Verité recommends a comprehensive supply chain assessments, training and capacity building, grievance mechanisms, policy advocacy and stakeholder dialogue.

Q&A with Daryll Delgado, Manager of Research and Stakeholder Engagement at Verité Southeast Asia

Click here to read this Q&A about Verité’s experience in the palm oil supply chain, and find recommendations for companies on how best to detect risks of forced labor and human trafficking.

Palm Oil Flier
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Palm Oil Primer
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What is Verité Doing?

Verité seeks to help companies and other stakeholders respond to these issues through a series of key steps, beginning with understanding and analysis, and ending with direct action to resolve problems.

Through participation in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Principles and Criteria Review Taskforce, Verité has helped to facilitate stronger labor, employment, human rights and business ethics provisions for this multistakeholder initiative. Verité also serves on the RSPO’s Dispute Settlement Facility Advisory Group.

Verité offers services to assist retailers, brands and buyers, traders, growers, and others that wish to eliminate the risk of labor abuse and lead the field in ethical palm oil production, including:

Assessment. Verité’s shadow audits and independent assessments help companies identify risks of labor abuse that they face in palm oil production, and improve management systems to better protect workers from these abuses.

Training. Verité boosts critical competencies at all levels of the supply chain with its training programs, which focus on the root causes of labor abuses and impart the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to resolve these abuses.

Resources. Verité develops customized tools and learning modules to assist companies in protecting workers from labor abuses in the production of palm oil.