New Dunkin’ Brands Palm Oil Commitment Doesn’t Go Far Enough, Science Group Says

Statement by the Union of Concerned Scientists' Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative.

Published Sep 16, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sep. 16, 2014) -- Dunkin’ Brands, the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, announced new commitments for sourcing deforestation-free palm oil, but is only applying them to U.S. operations, which would cover only half its stores, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Palm oil, one of the ingredients used in Dunkin’ Donuts’ fry oil, is often produced by clearing carbon-rich forests and peatlands. All told, deforestation accounts for 10 percent of global warming emissions. 

In recent years, dozens of major companies have committed to buying more deforestation-free palm oil. Last March, UCS scored commitments from 30 top companies and Dunkin’ Brands received a failing grade, largely because the company did not address palm oil procurement across its global supply chain.

Below is a statement from Calen May-Tobin, the scorecard’s author and a lead analyst with UCS’s Tropical Forest & Climate Initiative:

“America might run on Dunkin’, but the company needs to address the 59 other countries in which it operates, too. Dunkin’ is clearly feeling the heat from American consumers, but their response is not quite what their consumers are demanding.  

"It’s a good sign that Dunkin’ is willing to improve sourcing for its U.S. locations; it should adopt the same requirements globally. The company says it’s going to consider doing so, but in the meantime, tropical forests are still getting fried. The fast food sector is woefully behind other industries when it comes to sourcing sustainable palm oil. Dunkin’ is taking this issue seriously and more fast food companies should follow in its footsteps. At the end of the day, though, this is literally a half-measure.”

(UPDATE, 9/22/14: After it released its palm oil commitment, Dunkin' Brands clarified that their policy now covers the company's global supply chain. Calen May-Tobin has more on our blog.)