Wellington | Reuters — New Zealand farm company Landcorp said Monday it would ban its farmers from using palm kernel expeller (PKE), a feed supplement used for cows that environmentalists have linked to rainforest destruction.
The state-owned company, which runs 140 farms, said it would end the use of the feed by June 2017 to meet shifting consumer expectations on how food was produced.
Environmentalists say the product — what’s left of the palm kernel once the oil has been extracted — contributes to the profitability of the palm industry, which is under attack over deforestation, choking fires and habitat destruction in Southeast Asia.
“Landcorp wants our partners and customers to know they can trust that we farm sustainably and care for the environment,” said Landcorp chief executive Steven Carden in a statement.
New Zealand, which prides itself on its green image, has become a top buyer of PKE, a dry, gritty meal, to help it ramp up dairy production.
New Zealand buys around a quarter of global PKE, according to environmental lobby group Greenpeace, which has campaigned vehemently against the use of the feed.
“It’s not a good look for Kiwi farms to be linked to the destruction of the world’s last remaining rainforests,” Greenpeace forests campaigner Grant Rosoman said in a written statement.
Rosoman welcomed Landcorp’s move and called on New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra to follow suit. Fonterra did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Last year Fonterra called on its 10,500 farmer shareholders to limit the use of palm kernel to three kg per animal per day. The company said its PKE supplier Wilmar already had a no-deforestation policy, but that it wanted its protect the premium commanded by dairy products from purely grass-fed animals.
— Reporting for Reuters by Charlotte Greenfield.