Wilmar International Limited
Native name
SGX: F34
IndustryFood processing
FoundedApril 1, 1991; 30 years ago (1991-04-01) in Singapore
FoundersKuok Khoon Hong
Martua Sitorus
Key people
Kuok Khoon Hong (Chairman and CEO)
ProductsPalm oil, protein meal, consumer pack edible oils, sugar, specialty fats, oleochemicals and biodiesel
RevenueIncrease US$50.53 billion (2020)
Increase US$1.69 billion (2020)
Total assetsIncrease US$21.38 billion (2020)
Total equityIncrease US$21.38 billion (2020)
Number of employees
about 100,000 (2020)
Footnotes / references
Data from 2020 Annual Report[1]

Wilmar International Limited (Chinese: 丰益国际)[2][3] is a Singaporean food processing and investment holding company with more than 300 subsidiary companies.[1]: 18  Founded in 1991, it is one of Asia's leading agribusiness groups alongside the COFCO Group. It ranks amongst the largest listed companies by market capitalisation on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), being the second largest as of September 2010.[4] It was ranked 211th in the Fortune Global 500 list in 2020.[5] It was ranked 3rd in the World's Most Admired Company (Food Production) by Fortune in 2019.[6]

Wilmar International business activities include oil palm cultivation, edible oils refining, oilseeds crushing, consumer pack edible oils processing and merchandising, specialty fats, oleochemicals, and biodiesel manufacturing, grains processing and merchandising, and sugar milling and refining. In 2021, Wilmar placed 2nd on FoodTalks' Global Top 30 Specialty Oil Companies list.[7] It has over 500 manufacturing plants and an extensive distribution network covering China, Indonesia, India and some 50 other countries. The group employs a multinational workforce of more than 100,000 people.[1]: 28 

Wilmar's merchandising and processing segment encompasses merchandising of palm oil and laurics-related products, operations of palm oil processing and refinery plants and crushing, further processing and refining of a range of edible oils, oilseeds, grains and soybean. Its consumer products include edible oils, rice, flour and noodles in China, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. Its plantation and palm oil mills segment engages in oil palm cultivation and milling.

Business profile

Unilever is one of the main customers of Wilmar. Unilever and Wilmar are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) which brings together retailers, producers and NGOs like Oxfam and WWF.[8]

Palm oil

Palm oil, extracted from palm fruit pulp, is Wilmar's main product. Palm oil is the most widely used edible oil, and there is 42 million acres under cultivation worldwide. Commercial production has helped many communities in Africa and South-east Asia tackle local poverty. However, environmentalists have been concerned that such widespread cultivation has led to deforestation and air pollution, and is a threat to endangered species. In 2013, Wilmar changed its approach and endorsed sustainability principles, and now encourages their suppliers and customers to do likewise.[citation needed]


Wilmar was founded by Kuok Khoon Hong and Martua Sitorus on 1 April 1991[9] and commenced operations as a palm oil trading company.

Forbes named Kuok the twelfth richest person in Singapore in 2021[10] and Martua is the twelfth richest person in Indonesia.[11]


Ethical issues

In 2004, Friends of the Earth Netherlands performed a review of Wilmar's palm oil operations in Sumatra Riau as undertaken by PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa. Wilmar had 20,800 hectares of land there and the operation was financed by the Dutch Rabobank and the International Finance Corporation. Satellite photos proved that in 2004 the plantations were on sea shore peat rain forests, the depth of the peat being four meters, whereas such land is actually protected under Indonesian law. Nevertheless, in 1997 Wilmar received permission to plant there despite it being peat land. According to locals, the plantation endangers the Sumatran tiger population that inhabits the area, and this became a point of conflict with Wilmar in 2004. Soon after, Wilmar sold PT Jatim Jaya Perkasaand and joined the WWF Palm Oil Association (WWF for World Wide Fund for Nature).

According to Friends of the Earth Netherlands, Wilmar International starts forest fires and violates the rights of local populations.[24] In July 2007 Friends of the Earth and two local environmental organizations criticized Wilmar's illegal forest felling in Kalimantan, in Indonesia.[8] As a result of this campaign against Wilmar's projects in Sambas, West Kalimantan, the company agreed to implement a number of new measures and policies.[25]

In July 2013, a report published by the WWF which documented that Wilmar (as well as the Indonesian company Asian Agri) were purchasing palm oil fruit which was grown illegally in Tesso Nilo National Park, Sumatra.[26] According to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, both Wilmar and Asian Agri took immediate action to stop this illegal sourcing.[27]

In October 2015, Wilmar and Sinarmas, reportedly involved with the case of forest fires in Indonesia that led to the island of Sumatra and Kalimantan burn and cause catastrophic smog[28]

In 2018, a Greenpeace International report asserted that Wilmar International is "the biggest and dirtiest palm oil trader in the world"[29]

In 2020, global campaign organisation Mighty Earth reported that Wilmar International was involved in cutting down of natural forests inside an oil palm concession in Indonesia's easternmost region of Papua, but Wilmar's investigation concluded that the deforestation is smaller than alleged and done by smallholder farmers.[30]


According to Friends of the Earth, Wilmar and Bidco Africa through Bidco Uganda, have been involved in long running dispute over land with local communities.[31]

According to The Guardian in March 2015, the land grab issue has plagued the community of Kalangala for a number of years. In July 2011, residents awoke to "find yellow machines churning up her land and razing the crops she had grown in a bid to make way for palm oil plantations."[32] Bidco Africa and Wilmar have made no recorded statement on these matters. Again according to Friends of the Earth International, the projects implications include: Forced displacement, poor labour standards, deforestation, and insecurity amongst other.[33] The community have now taken the conglomerate to court.[31][34]

In February 2016, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) received a petition from the Bugala Farmers Association in Uganda related to UNDP's association with Bidco Africa Ltd.[35] A complaint was also received by the UNDP's Stakeholder Response Mechanism (SRM) and Social and Environmental Compliance Unit (SECU).[36] In May 2016, UNDP visited Kalangala to further investigate the issues surrounding the matter.[37] In November 2016, the UNDP faulted a decision inviting Bidco Ltd into partnership with the United Nations Development Programme's Business Call to Action in Uganda.[38]

Human right violations in 2016

On 30 November 2016, Amnesty International published a report into working conditions on the Wilmar International plantations and refineries in Indonesia. It alleged human rights abuses, including "forced labour, low pay, exposure to toxic chemicals and discrimination against women".[39] According to Amnesty International, Wilmar International profited from 8- to 14-year-old child labour and forced labour. Some workers were extorted, threatened or not paid for work. Some workers suffered severe injuries from exposure to herbicides containing paraquat. Wilmar customers include FAMSA, ADM, Colgate-Palmolive, Elevance, Kellogg's, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever. Wilmar palm oil may be used in popular products like Magnum ice-cream, Colgate toothpaste, Dove (toiletries), Knorr soup, KitKat, Pantene shampoo, Ariel, and Pot Noodle.[40]

NDPE Initiatives

On 5 December 2013, Wilmar committed to a No Deforestation, No Peat & No Exploitation Policy (NDPE policy)[41] for both its own operations and third party suppliers.[42] It promised to stop buying from suppliers who cleared forest, drained peat land, or exploited locals.[43] This was lauded as a transformational step towards responsible and sustainable palm oil development.[44] Preliminary analysis estimated that Wilmar's commitment would eliminate more than 1.5Gt CO2 emissions in total between 2016 and 2020.[42]

Recognition / Awards

In 2015, Wilmar won the Special Recognition Award at the Singapore Apex CSR Awards 2015 organised by the Global Compact Network Singapore, Singapore Business Federation and The Business Times. It was hailed for being the first major palm oil player to step up to ensure its supply chain is de-linked from any forest destruction and human rights abuse.[45]

In 2020, Wilmar International CEO Kuok Khoon Hong was named as CEO as “most favourable” following the company's $7m donation and positive performance.[46]


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  4. ^ "Wilmar's Harvest". Forbes.com. 9 August 2010.
  5. ^ "Fortune Global 500". Retrieved 16 October 2021.
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  7. ^ Fu, Rice (26 May 2021). "2021年全球特种油脂企业30强". FoodTalks (in Chinese). Retrieved 24 January 2022.
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  15. ^ "Aftenposten: Oljefondet kvittet seg med "verdens verste selskap" (in Norwegian)". aftenposten.no. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  16. ^ Heyerdahl, Sindre. "Sindre Heyerdahl, E24. "OLJEFONDETS GIGANTTAP PÅ AKTIV FORVALTNING: Mener Gjedrem bløffer om investeringene" (in Norwegian)". e24.no. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
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  18. ^ "Tracking sustainable palm oil: Unilever uses geospatial analytics for "sophisticated" deforestation crackdown".
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  23. ^ "'PZ committed to boost economy'". 14 August 2020.
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  26. ^ "REPORT: Palming off a National Park: Tracking Illegal Palm Oil Fruit in Riau, Sumatra". World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  28. ^ "Perusahaan Grup Wilmar dan Sinar Mas Paling Banyak Menyumbang Titik Api". Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  29. ^ "Oreo maker linked to destruction of orangutan habitat for palm oil in Indonesia". Greenpeace.org. 13 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  30. ^ "Palm oil giant Wilmar unfazed as watchdogs cry foul over Papua deforestation". Mongabay Environmental News. 8 December 2020.
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  32. ^ Mwesigwa, Alon (3 March 2015). "Ugandan farmers take on palm oil giants over land grab claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
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  34. ^ The Land Grab – Uganda's farmers battle with palm oil producers. YouTube. 12 July 2015. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
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  38. ^ "Bidco is not fit to join UNDP's project – UN". The Star. Archived from the original on 19 November 2016.
  39. ^ "Human rights abuses in your shopping basket". www.amnesty.org. 30 November 2016.
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  46. ^ "A list of CEOs in SG most favoured by the media in 2020". www.marketing-interactive.com. Retrieved 4 January 2022.