London: A new probe has claimed that endangered orangutans are being wiped out to make KitKat chocolates.
According to a report in The Sun, the palm oil ingredient in the KitKat chocolate is allegedly grown on Indonesian land cleared of rainforest where the rare apes live.
Greenpeace claims that the work is carried out by a company using illegal methods.
The worldwide trade in the oil is considered the single greatest factor threatening the orangutan.
In letters to Greenpeace, seen by The Sun, Nestle has admitted buying palm oil from PT Smart, part of the Indonesian giant Sinar Mas.
Over the past two years Greenpeace found evidence of Sinar Mas clearing rainforest for plantations in the Papua province.
It means the apes are forced out of forests as they are cut down and end up on palm oil plantations.
They are regarded as a “pest” and are killed or sold to protect the crop. At least 1,500 have died in one year.
Sinar Mas is alleged to have persistently broken forestry laws.
Unilever, makers of Magnum, Cornetto and Ben and Jerry’s cancelled its 20 million pound deal with Sinar Mas last year.
Nestle and Kraft launched investigations after Greenpeace claimed they buy palm oil from PT Smart. Kraft cancelled its contracts earlier this year.
In Indonesia, Nestle gets the oil from the group, but in other markets - including the UK where KitKats are made - it buys from firms supplied by Sinar Mas, among them global giant Cargill.
“We do purchase from Cargill and have sought assurances about their supply chain,” said a Nestle spokesman.
“Cargill has informed us that Sinar Mas needs to answer Greenpeace’s allegations by the end of April. They indicated they will delist Sinar Mas if they do not take action by then,” he added.
According to Greenpeace spokesman Ian Duff, “KitKats contain palm oil from suppliers who are trashing rainforests and driving orangutans to extinction.”
First Published: Thursday, March 18, 2010, 20:52