Merger of Burger King and Tim Hortons Offers Opportunities For Better Palm Oil Policies

Statement by Lael Goodman, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Aug 27, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 27, 2014) – Yesterday Burger King announced a merger with the Canada-based Tim Hortons restaurant chain, and today, reactions to the merger are echoing across the blogosphere. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) urges commentators to consider both companies record on palm oil.

Palm oil is used in everything from food and fuel to beauty products and cleaning agents. Dramatic increases in demand for palm oil are driving increases in deforestation, and currently, about ten percent of all global warming emissions result from deforestation. 

Below is a statement by Lael Goodman, an analyst with UCS’s Tropical Forest & Climate Initiative:

“Lots of people are up in arms about the Burger King-Tim Horton merger. But few recognize the threat this merger poses to the world’s tropical forests. Both companies have appalling track records on palm oil. Burger King was included the UCS scorecard grading palm oil sourcing commitments. With a score of zero, the burger giant did not make the grade. 

“Both Burger King and Tim Hortons are major palm oil users. Palm oil gets French fries nice and crispy in Burger King’s Asia establishments and is used in the States for cookies, biscuits and other baked goods. Tim Hortons’ lip-smacking donuts are full of palm oil. And neither company has a palm oil commitment that prevents all forest destruction.

“If Burger King and Tim Hortons are merging their palm oil policies, they have some work to do. Both companies should commit to sourcing palm oil that’s deforestation-free and not grown on peatlands, swampy areas of decayed vegetation. Oil that is grown using sustainable practices will also reduce harmful climate emissions. A strong palm oil commitment could sow some positive headlines for the newly merged company and improve the global climate.