CINCINNATI, April 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) committed to sourcing sustainable palm oil by the end of 2015, in the following policy statement issued today: Palm oil has become the world's leading oil crop and today accounts for roughly one-third of the global vegetable oil production. This oil has grown in popularity within the food industry as a cooking oil, shortening, margarine, milk fat replacer, and as a cocoa butter substitute. Some organizations have raised concerns that unless it is sourced responsibly, palm oil can contribute to deforestation in parts of the world. Kroger recognizes the benefits of using responsibly-sourced palm oil in all of our Corporate Brand products. We also recognize this is a developing issue for many of our suppliers, and we are committed to working with them to improve sustainability in the palm oil production supply chain. By the end of 2015, Kroger will purchase 100% of palm oil from suppliers certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Kroger will disclose its progress toward this goal in its annual sustainability report, and continue to support public policy efforts for a moratorium on palm oil expansion in rainforests and peat lands. "For the products we self-manufacture, we are proud to already source exclusively from suppliers who are RSPO members, working toward certification," said Calvin Kaufman, Kroger's group vice president of manufacturing. "Our plants are modeling the way for our third-party suppliers." Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs 343,000 associates who serve customers in 2,424 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 786 convenience stores, 328 fine jewelry stores, 1,169 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S. Recognized by Forbes as the most generous company in America, Kroger supports hunger relief, breast cancer awareness, the military and their families, and more than 30,000 schools and grassroots organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 160 million meals a year through more than 80 Feeding America food bank partners. A leader in supplier diversity, Kroger is a proud member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber's Million Dollar Club. SOURCE The Kroger Co.