It is likely that Fonterra's massive use of palm products is fuelling the enormous fires that raged across Indonesia recently.
Over the last decade Fonterra’s shift from pasture-fed farming to industrial dairying has meant a heavy reliance on supplementary feeds such as palm kernel expeller (PKE) from South East Asia. Such is the scale of its use on Fonterra farms, that New Zealand has become the single largest user of PKE, importing nearly 2 million tonnes in 2015.
PKE has become a lucrative part of the largely unsustainable palm business which is causing rampant deforestation and peatland drainage, as well as the recent forest fires raging across Indonesia.
Recent evidence from a Greenpeace investigation linked Fonterra’s main supplier of palm product to the forest destruction that has been called the worst environmental crime of this century. The fires have caused widespread human suffering and ill-health; the loss of habitat for endangered species like the orang-utan and released massive amounts of climate pollution.
There is no need for New Zealand’s dairy products to be produced at the expense of the last remaining forests of Indonesia or the people and animals that depend on them. There are much smarter, safer and cleaner ways of farming in New Zealand that will not only protect the air we breathe but safeguard our rivers and streams too.