Wilmar International Ltd
Wilmar is the world’s largest palm oil trader, accounting for ~40% of global trade. It is a Singaporean-based investment holding company that provides management services to its 400+ subsidiary companies. It has 450+ manufacturing plants, and an extensive distribution network covering China, India, Indonesia and some 50 other countries.
Palm oil is Wilmar's main product; Unilever is one of Wilmar's main customers. Business segments are:
- Oil Palm Plantation and Mills: oil palm cultivation and milling;
- Merchandising and processing: merchandising of palm oil and laurics-related products, palm oil processing, refinery plants and crushing, refining of a range of edible oils, oilseeds (eg. sunflower, cottonseed, canola, peanut, corn), grains, and soybean;
- Consumer Products: specialty fats, oleochemicals; and oil-bottling businesses in the People's Republic of China, Vietnam and Indonesia
- Manufacturing and Distribution of Biodiesel and Fertilisers: produces nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium compound fertilisers; also engaged in the merchandising of straight fertilisers, such as potash, phosphate and nitrogen, and trace element products;
- Sugar: milling, merchandising, refining and consumer products;
- Ship-chartering services
Commercial production has helped many communities in Africa and South-east Asia tackle local poverty. However, widespread cultivation has led to deforestation and air pollution, and is a threat to endangered species. In 2013, Wilmar changed its approach and endorsed sustainability principles, and now encourages their suppliers and customers to do likewise. It has become a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
Wilmar was founded in 1991 by Kuok Khoon Hong and Martua Sitorus; Sitorus is also the CEO of the highly destructive Gama Corporation. In addition to a large amount of managerial overlap between the two groups, Wilmar has a history of selling problematic concessions to Gama when serious human rights or environmental violations in its own operations are exposed.
Wilmar also owns Australian foods company Goodman Fielder jointly with First Pacific Company Ltd, the majority shareholder of Indofood, part of the Salim Group(See case study, p.136). ref, p.12
- 24.6% Archer-Daniels-Midland Company,
- 18.3% PPB Group Berhad,
- 6.52% Kerry Group Ltd,
- 5.32% Longhlin Asia Ltd,
- 4.10% Kuok Group,
- 4.00% Harpole Resources Ltd,
- 3.60% HPR Investments Ltd,
- 2.88% Hong Lee Holdings Pte Ltd,
- 0.91% Wilmar International Ltd,
- 0.91% Vanguard Group Inc
Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader, buys from 18 of the 25 palm oil producer groups that destroy rainforests and exploit local communities, and supplies 16 of the 17 brands: Nestlé, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Kellogg's, Mondelez, Mars and Proctor & Gamble. ref
Approximately 10-20% of Wilmar’s palm oil supply comes from its own concessions (~239,935 planted hectares); more than 80% comes from 3rd-party suppliers; Wilmar trades extensively with refiners in the leakage market (p.19). ref, p.13
See also , p.12 - the foll. traders buy palm oil from Wilmar: Cargill, AAK, Bunge, Olam, Sime Darby.
- Jun.03.2019: ABF announces joint venture with Wilmar International. Associated British Foods plc and Yihai Kerry Arawana Holdings Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of Wilmar International Ltd, have agreed to form a 50:50 joint venture in China for the manufacture, sale and distribution of yeast and bakery ingredients. Press Release, ABF plc.
- Dec.15.2018: Palm oil trader reveals its plan to save the rainforests. The world’s largest palm oil trader has unveiled a plan to tackle deforestation that campaigners believe is a “potential breakthrough” in saving rainforests. Wilmar International, which supplies 40% of the world’s palm oil, has committed to map its suppliers’ entire landbank by the end of 2019. The company, based in Singapore, will use satellite monitoring to check for deforestation. Companies caught cutting virgin forest for plantations will be immediately suspended from doing business with the company. Greenpeace, said: "If Wilmar keeps its word, by the end of 2019 it will be almost impossible for its suppliers to get away with forest destruction. Greenpeace will be watching closely to make sure it delivers.” This year Greenpeace reported that one of the worst offenders for buying palm oil from producers that have cut down virgin rainforest is Mondelez, the US owner of Cadbury. Mondelez backed Wilmar’s plan. Andrew Ellson, The Times.
- Jun.25.2018: Rogue Trader: Keeping deforestation in the family. Over 21,500ha of rainforest have been destroyed in Gama concessions since Wilmar announced its NDPE policy at the end of 2013. Wilmar is keeping its customers in the dark about their exposure to deforestation by Gama, which is intimately connected to Wilmar. This deception undermines the efforts of Wilmar’s customers to implement their own NDPE policies properly. For Sitorus and his family, it ensures that trade – and money – continues flowing from the global market to the Gama side of the empire. The question Wilmar must answer is whether this policy is being pursued with the full approval of Wilmar International CEO Kuok Khoon Hong – or whether Wilmar’s Indonesian operation, under the influence of Kuok’s longtime partner Martua Sitorus, has gone rogue and is being used by Sitorus and his relatives to further their own business interests. Either way, companies trading with Wilmar cannot let this deceit go unchallenged. Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Hershey, Kellogg's, Mars, Mondelēz, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, PZ Cussons, Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever all received palm oil from Gama mills in 2017. Greenpeace.
- Nov.30.2016: Palm Oil: Global brands profiting from child and forced labour. Wilmar International and other palm oil companies are regularly accused of exploiting workers, children and local communities. Amnesty International.
- 2013: Following Greenpeace's exposé Licence to Kill that revealed Wilmar and its suppliers were responsible for deforestation, illegal clearance, fires on peatland and extensive clearance of tiger habitat, Wilmar announced a ‘no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation’ policy. link
- Wilmar website, Sustainability portal. Wilmar International. Accessed Sept.22.2018.
- The Final Countdown: Now or never to reform the palm oil industry. A Greenpeace investigation has exposed how the world’s biggest brands are still linked to rainforest destruction in Indonesia. Greenpeace International, Sept.19.2018.