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SAI and Partners of the Americas receive $6 million to improve labor conditions in palm oil industry

photo of workers harvesting palm fruit in Colombia

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has awarded $6 million to SAI and our partner organizations, Partners of the Americas (Partners) and J.E. Austin Associates (JAA), for our project to address child labor, forced labor, and working conditions in the Latin American palm oil industry.

Over the next four years, SAI will work with companies, workers, and communities in Colombia and Ecuador to build up robust social performance systems that improve conditions for workers at every level of the supply chain—from industrial processing plants, to large-scale plantations, to thousands of smallholder farms. SAI and Partners will also work with stakeholders and government officials to build capacity at the local and national level. JAA will conduct an in-depth value chain analysis, positioning the industry to link improved social performance and business competitiveness. The companies' experiences will be turned into Harvard Business School case studies, guiding future generations of business and organizational decision-makers. The overall project outcomes and tools will be disseminated in Brazil, Peru, and other key palm-producing regions.

photo of workers processing palm fruit in Colombia

Palm oil can be found in up to half of all consumer goods and commercial food products. It is an important cooking oil around the world, cosmetic ingredient, and an increasingly important biofuel. As a widespread and versatile global commodity, palm oil production impacts millions of farmers, workers, and communities across the globe. In addition to improving conditions at specific companies in Latin America, SAI and our partners seek to demonstrate through detailed market analysis that palm oil produced and processed in a socially sustainable way can be competitive in the global market. This project is an exciting opportunity to raise expectations for social performance across an important global industry and improve conditions for workers around the world.

For more information, contact Stephanie Wilson, Associate Director—Innovation & Partnerships, swilson@sa-intl.org.