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11 Mar 2024

Germany: NGOs take legal action against EDEKA over alleged human rights abuses in its palm oil supply chain in Guatemala; incl. company responses

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the consumer organisation foodwatch have taken legal action against the EDEKA Group. They allege that there are human rights violations and environmental pollution in the palm oil supply chain of several products advertised with the label of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

According to the organisations, there are recurring labour rights violations on the plantations of NaturAceites in Guatemala, a alleged supplier of Walter Rau Lebensmittel, who in turn supplies EDEKA. Furthermore, palm oil production reportedly takes place on plantations that the indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ community claim as their traditional land, while protests by communities for their land rights were allegedly violently suppressed by security forces.

The NGOs are taking two legal actions against EDEKA: Firstly, they have filed a complaint with EDEKA under the German Supply Chain Act and, secondly, they have filed a lawsuit against an Edeka company under the Act against Unfair Competition for misleading advertising.

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre has invited EDEKA, NaturAceites, Walter Rau Lebensmittel (Bunges) and RSPO to respond to the allegations. Their responses are available below.

In April, the ECCHR and foodwatch issued a rejoinder to NaturAceites's response; it can be read in full below.

Company Responses

Walter Rau Lebensmittelwerke GmbH View Response
Edeka Group View Response
NaturAceites View Response
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) View Response