Controversial palm oil firm Golden Agri-Resources asks Bell Pottinger for help

One of the globe's largest producers of palm oil has called in international PR agency advice after coming under sustained fire from environmental campaigners.

Environmental impact: Sumatran palm oil factory
Environmental impact: Sumatran palm oil factory

Golden Agri-Resources, the palm oil arm of Sinar Mas, was embroiled in controversy in March concerning Nestle's use of the product. The controversial firm has now enlisted Pelham Bell Pottinger to fight its corner.

The account will be managed out of London and the agency's newly launched office in Singapore, spearheaded by director and comms veteran David Wynne-Morgan.

Greenpeace's accusations have centred on the 'devastating impact' the palm oil industry has on Indonesia's natural environment and native orangutans. The controversy has seen major firms reportedly cancel multi-million pound contracts with palm oil producers controlled by Golden Agri.

The firm acknowledges the impact of Greenpeace's campaign and the need to publicly state its own case. 'The company realises it needs to change and is making those changes,' said Wynne-Morgan. 'We will support its attempts to tell people about its real efforts in terms of sustainability, reforestation as well as its efforts to alleviate poverty and importance as an employer in Indonesia.'

The account, won without a competitive pitch, is one of two high-profile names on-board to launch Pelham Bell Pottinger's Singapore office. The firm has also picked up an expanded brief with government investment company Temasek Holdings, and will now look after its PR in Singapore and London.

Wynne-Morgan will serve as CEO of Pelham Bell Pottinger Asia and is understood to be a shareholder. Ang Shih-Huei joins from Kreab Gavin Anderson and will be MD (Singapore) of Pelham Bell Pottinger Asia, leading the six-strong office.

Palm oil problems

Greenpeace has targeted Sinar Mas for contributing to deforestation, but the group still plans a $100m palm oil expansion this year

Unilever reportedly cancelled a contract with palm oil producers controlled by Golden Agri in December 2009. Kraft cancelled a contract in February 2010

Nestle stopped direct trading relations with Sinar Mas in Indonesia in April.

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