NVDAILY.COM | Local News

Posted January 6, 2012 | comments 16 Comments

Kroger drops Asia Pulp & Paper products

APP subsidiary Mercury: Little local impact expected

By Kaitlin Mayhew -- kmayhew@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- Kroger food stores, as well as all stores owned by the company nationwide, will no longer sell paper products from Asia Pulp & Paper.

The Kroger Co. released a statement two weeks ago stating that after an "independent review" the company and its family of stores will no longer stock the toilet paper and paper towel products, many of which are sold under the name Paseo.

A portion of the products are processed at one of APP's subsidiary companies, Mercury Paper Co., in Strasburg.

"Obviously, we were disappointed to hear of Kroger's announcement, particularly for the consumers who shopped at Kroger subsidiaries and recognized the value in PASEO," read a Mercury Paper statement released after Kroger's decision.

Philip Rundle, special adviser of corporate and government affairs for Mercury Paper, went on to say that the loss of Kroger as a retailer for APP may not directly affect Mercury Paper all that significantly.

"Our relationship with Kroger is mostly through one of its California banners and our sister manufacturing company in California," he said. "Our growth plans for the coming years are unchanged, and we are confident that North American customers will, in time, see value in providing their shoppers sustainable tissue sourced from Asia and converted here."

Rolf Skar, senior campaigner for Greenpeace, said that the consequences for APP as a whole may be more severe, especially when it comes to sales within the U.S.

He said that based on Nielsen information, Paseo's total 2010 U.S. sales were around $20 million. Of that, roughly $15 million came from Kroger.

"I think it's an enormous wake-up call for the executives at APP," Skar said. "We're talking about a company that has annual sales of $82 billion."

By making this decision, Kroger joins Food Lion, owned by the Belgian Delhaize company, which announced Nov. 1 it would no longer stock Paseo products.

However, when it comes to companies that have cut ties with APP, and not just specifically their Paseo brand products, Kroger is just the latest in a long line that has been growing for a number of years.

Staples, for instance halted business with APP in 2008. Hasbro, Lego, Nestle, Kraft and Hewlett-Packard have all made commitments to steer clear of APP products, as well as Kimberly-Clark, another large tissue company.

Keith Dailey, director of external corporate communications for The Kroger Co., confirmed that Paseo products were sold in their Ralphs and Food 4 Less grocery stores in California. He said that made up less than 10 percent of their stores nationwide.

"After independently investigating APP's alleged deforestation and animal abuse practices in Indonesia, we chose to suspend purchasing products from the company until it seeks credible, third-party certifications related to sustainability," Dailey said. "The facts are clear that the Indonesian company's practices do not live up to the environmental standards Kroger expects from suppliers."

Skar believes that this decision by Kroger will not only inspire other companies who stock Paseo products to follow suit, but that it will also discourage any firms considering the addition of the product line.

"[APP should say] 'We need to meet certain criteria for these retailers.' One of these is going to have to be a certain amount of environmental responsibility," he said. "That's what people want to buy now. They don't want toilet paper made out of tigers' rainforests."

He also said he doesn't think the absence of APP products on the shelf will mean no low-cost paper products.

"That's another reality check," he said. "There's a lot of toilet paper out there. The U.S. is a mature toilet paper market. There are major brands. They can easily fill a store shelf."

Audrey Jackson, state director for the Virginia chapter of Americans for Prosperity, said she is still concerned that backlash from Kroger's decision may ripple through the local community.

"We will continue to urge Kroger and other American big box companies to protect hard working Virginians, while urging Kroger to reverse its decision," she said.

16 Comments | Leave a comment

    Good another store to stop shopping at, maybe this one little customer won't hurt Kroger's bottom line. But it will send a message to my family and friends employed with Mercury Paper that the local economy is more important than a huge corporations quarterly profits.


      By boycotting all these stores, we'll be running out of things to do with our money, but, if we hurry, we can complete our sets of matched salad bowls that say Kool Whip on the sides before Kroger goes bankrupt from loosing our business.

    Good for Kroger. If companies here and abroad are harming the environment, stopping the use of their product is the only way to get their attention. It hits APP's bottom line, not Kroger.

      Maybe you have not read all the articles and comments on some of them that are posted by management at APP. These allegations are false, unfortunately while we wait on the government and courts to prove that they are we will see a decrease in hiring in the valley and maybe even more layoffs.

    This doesn't have a thing to do with the profits of Kroger. It has to do with encouraging companies to be mindful of our resources. The issue is the deforestation practices of the supplier. I applaud Kroger and all the other companies that have chosen to forgo a partnership with APP because of their lack of environmental stewardship, which of course adds to APP's huge quarterly profits in an irresponsible manner.

    I'm more down with "Stopping the rape of the Earth's resources with complete disregard for the environment is more important in the long-term than a few local jobs.", but to each his/her own.

    There's a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things and there are many paper companies that don't seem to have quite the track record of APP...

    But hey, that's the "Free Market" at work I guess. Something the Tea Party AND the ACLU could come down in support of, right?

    You have the right to stop shopping at Kroger, and Kroger has the right to stop purchasing from APP subsidiaries based on the beliefs that each of you hold regarding the issue of deforestation and whether it is an issue worth losing some jobs over...

      Maybe you have not read all the articles and comments on some of them that are posted by management at APP. These allegations are false, unfortunately while we wait on the government and courts to prove that they are we will see a decrease in hiring in the valley and maybe even more layoffs.

      I am not a Tea Party supporter and do care about the Earth's resources. I have worked many hours on Capitol Hill, Richmond and local government in support of the Izaack Walton League and Ducks Unlimited. I have also worked on Save Our Marshes, Save Our Bay and others.

      If they allegations were true I would not have an issue with Green Peace's fight. I just firmly believe that you need to have all the facts before you start throwing out allegations. I would not of had much success in my past lobbying if I had not taken the time to triple check my facts before I presented my allegations.

        Please, go see for yourself what APP has done in central Sumatra before you defend their practices. This is not about local jobs, but about a multimillion dollar company that is not environmentally responsible, and has deforested more than 60,000 times the area of Strasburg's 'Cedarless Valley' in the past two decades. And the human rights abuses they are charged with have not even been discussed.... and also has been charged with human rights abuses not behaving honorably.

      Here's a direct quote from under the photo above:

      "Mercury Paper rejects Greenpeace’s claims that its parent company, Asia Pulp and Paper, engages in practices that destroy rainforests. In fact, a company spokesman cites a Global Reporting Initiative Co. environmental sustainability report that gives APP an A-plus rating. Rich Cooley/Daily"

      How can APP earn an A+ rating if they are doing as your quote says: "Stopping the rape of the Earth's resources with complete disregard for the environment is more important in the long-term than a few local jobs."? I feel that this is a legitimate question.

    Google "Asia Pulp and Paper Global Reporting Initiative" and it will bring up a wealth of news about this company. Check it out for yourself, then ask who are you going to believe, APP or your own lying eyes?

    Hundreds of reports from hundreds of reputable agencies are available that tell of Asia Pulp and Paper's distortion of their activities. A new report from PlanetSave exposes the truth behind Asia Pulp & Paper's Greenwash Campaign. They say paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper, part of the Sinar Mas Group, has apparently been misleading consumers and investors with a massive PR campaign aimed at masking the truth behind its clear cutting operations in Indonesia. An investigative report released by WWF and its NGO partners revealed that the Senepis Tiger Sanctuary is being subjected to clear cutting operations by APP supplier, PT Ruas Utama Jaya. The Senepis Tiger Sanctuary is featured heavily in APP’s Greenwash Campaign, which attempts to push an image of environmental responsibility through front groups and media advertising. Historical satellite image analysis and thorough field investigations done in 2011 confirmed that the tiger sanctuary reality is very different than what APP is touting via its various mouthpieces. This is clear proof that the global advertising claims of APP that it actively protects Sumatran tigers are highly exaggerated. Sumatra-based NGO coalition Eyes on the Forest estimates that APP has pulped over two million hectares of tropical forest in Indonesia since 1984.

    "After independently investigating APP's alleged deforestation and animal abuse practices in Indonesia, we chose to suspend purchasing products from the company until it seeks credible, third-party certifications related to sustainability," Dailey said. "The facts are clear that the Indonesian company's practices do not live up to the environmental standards Kroger expects from suppliers."

    People need to read. It's not about the money.

    BUY AMERICAN!

    Right user, and Nixon, "Was not a crook!!!" and Rafael Palmeiro said sternly as he faced down his accusers "I did NOT take steroids!!!", etc...

    I mean why would Mercury Paper or APP lie about something like that? It isn't like companies are going to refuse to do business with them over the issue or anything....... Oh, wait a second.....

    And my point about the Tea Party and the ACLU wasnt' implying that you were a Tea Party supporter. Just that two organizations on polar opposite ends of the political spectrum would support BOTH, you in your decision to not shop at Kroger, and Kroger's decision to no longer do business with APP.....

    I'm studying this as part of my degree. The "facts" in this debate are those presented by the environmentalists, I'm afraid. They're not facts. It's mostly emotive garbage to stir up support from a well meaning public. This is all about fibre certification, which is a complicated subject. I'm no fan of Greenpeace or APP, but this story seriously needs some balance. For example, APP plants over 200 million trees a year towards its sustainable practice. No one ever tells you about that. Its operations are praised by dozens of credible external bodies including the UN. Environmentalists attack APP because APP doesn't use the certification method set up by the environmentalists (which isn't big enough to cope). Let's tell it how it is. The biggest threat to the tigers is poachers - by a mile. (In fact, the tiger population is growing for the first time in years.)

    edhiobekend? Have you met Ian Lifshitz? Neither one of you addresses the main issue that created the boycott of APP -- clear-cutting of old growth forests.

    Why do you remain silent on the core issue while hijacking the conversation to talk about how nice the weather has been lately?

    You may fool the others but you won't fool me.


Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily | nvdaily.com | 152 N. Holliday St., Strasburg, Va. 22657 | (800) 296-5137