Dear Yum Board member,
Two weeks ago, a new statement regarding "sustainable sourcing" of paper appeared on the Yum! website. The update provides some hope that KFC and Yum! may begin to address its role in deforestation after hundreds of thousands of people like me called for the company to take action.
I've been disappointed by a lack of leadership by KFC and Yum! on the issue of deforestation. While other quick-serve restaurant companies have made progress, KFC and Yum! have dragged their feet. For two years now, Greenpeace has attempted to engage the company through letters, publishing investigations into KFC's supply chain, and with the launch of a public campaign. Yet nobody from the Yum! headquarters has responded with details about how the company will address these important issues.
For instance, will Yum! rule out the use of commodities produced by companies like Asia Pulp &Paper (APP) which destroy rainforests and tiger habitat?
This is in stark contrast to a long list of global brands such as Unilever, McDonald's, Nestle and, most recently, Disney, that are addressing supply chain risks with comprehensive policies to tackle deforestation. It is worth noting that all have earned public recognition in the media for showing leadership on this front.
It is still unclear whether Yum! CEO David Novak is willing to resolve these important issues. At the Yum! 2012 AGM, Novak himself, in front of you and your shareholders, promised a meeting to another NGO campaigning on a similar issue. A few days before this meeting was to take place, Yum! informed the NGO that they could not see the value in a meeting.
Novak has also neglected to address rainforest destruction and other commodities like palm oil. This is despite the fact that at the 2011 AGM, over a third of shareholders voted in favour of Yum! adopting sustainable palm oil commitments that would put Yum! on par with other food companies like McDonald's.
The irony is that Novak is a self-styled leadership guru often found on the road promoting his book "Taking people with you." How can Novak claim to be a 21st Century leader when he is closing the door on critics and failing to deal with important sustainability issues?
There are some promising words in the Yum! statement, but it is difficult to be sure that the company will follow through to create credible global policy to cut deforestation out of its supply chain. As a board member, will you encourage David Novak to create a global deforestation policy that ensures that eating a Yum! meal doesn't drive the destruction of the world's remaining rainforests?