Assessing Forced Labor Risks in the Palm Oil Sector

Issues Employment Relationship Forced Labor Freedom of Association & Collective Bargaining

Environmental concerns related to palm oil production emerged in the early 2000s, but it is only recently that conversations about the palm oil sector have included social, labor, and human rights issues. As awareness grows about poor working conditions and forced labor in the palm oil sector, governments around the globe, particularly in Europe, have taken notice and are exploring bans on the use of palm oil.

The increased attention to forced labor and working conditions in the palm oil supply chain presents an important opportunity to increase transparency and disclosure. The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) has selected palm oil production as a focus area for implementation of its three Priority Industry Principles on forced labor and commissioned the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to conduct desk-based research to assess the forced labor situation in the palm oil sector in Indonesia and Malaysia, two countries, which combined, account for the majority of the palm oil used worldwide.

This report presents the aggregate research findings, including analysis and recommendations, and expands understanding of forced labor issues in the palm oil sector. Furthermore, the report will inform CGF and its work. The literature review, stakeholder surveys, and supply chain actors’ interviews conducted for this research project have identified indicators of forced labor, revealed likely causes, and shed light on systemic gaps and challenges.