More than 360 companies have committed to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains by 2020. Most will miss this target. The complexity of agricultural supply chains—which contain a labyrinth of intermediaries between farm and final product—makes achieving this goal exceedingly difficult.
Take palm oil: The journey usually begins on a small-scale plantation where fruit is harvested and driven to a local collection facility. These facilities can source from dozens of farms in the area, mixing the harvests together into one heap. From there, the chain of transportation quickly becomes muddled as the fruit travels in increasingly larger piles to bigger and bigger collection facilities.
The palm fruit then goes to a mill to be pressed into crude palm oil, where it’s combined with hundreds of tons of other palm fruits from hundreds of farms, every day. The palm oil is then shipped to a refinery, mixed with other shipments, and finally, sold to the candy company that will use it in chocolate bars. And this long and complex chain is typical for nearly all commodities, from cocoa to soy to beef.