Jakarta – Leading plantation firm Astra Agro Lestari (AAL) denied allegations that it has committed environmental destruction, human rights violations, and land grabs that led food and drinks conglomerate Nestle SA to call for a boycott of its palm oil.
Astra Agro "has reaffirmed its commitment to the sustainable management of oil palm plantations and this commitment includes our efforts to preserve the environment and respect human rights", company spokesman Tofan Mahdi said in a statement on Sunday.
His remarks were in response to recent media reports that Nestle has asked its suppliers to refrain from buying palm oil from three affiliates of Astra Agro.
Tofan, quoting a report by Bloomberg, said that the boycott call was mentioned in a letter from the Swiss company to the environmental organization Friends of The Earth (FoE), which has attacked Astra Agro with "baseless accusations".
"The material presented by the FoE which is used as the basis for Nestle's plan is an old issue that has been clarified in the years when it happened," Tofan said.
He added that Nestle is not a direct buyer of palm oil from Astra Agro's subsidiaries. According to him, accusations by the NGO "do not reflect the real conditions on the ground".
"In the case of the looting of palm fruit in the company's plantations in March 2022, when palm oil prices were high, which became the basis for the FoE accusation, Astra Agro fully handed over the legal process against the perpetrators to the authorities based on the applicable laws and regulation, without any interference from AAL or its subsidiaries," he said.
"The company has also implemented a sustainability policy with the principles of no deforestation, peatland conservation, and respect for human rights," Tofan added.