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Palm oil industry reaches sustainability ‘tipping point’

By Caroline Scott-Thomas+

06-Mar-2014
Last updated the 06-Mar-2014 at 11:56 GMT

Most of the world’s palm oil is set to be sustainably sourced, after Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) became the latest major supplier to commit to forest conservation last week, says Catapult, an organisation working to end deforestation-linked commodities trade.

GAR is the world’s second-biggest palm oil producer, controlling about 10% of global palm oil production. It announced on Friday that it intended to extend its forest conservation policy to the palm oil it trades. The pledge follows a similar commitment from Wilmar in December, which accounts for about 45% of global palm oil trade.

Catapult’s executive director Glenn Hurowitz said in a statement: “GAR’s announcement signals that an industry that has been synonymous with deforestation and species extinction is rapidly evolving towards responsible production.

“The industry has reached a tipping point. Consumer companies now have several different options to source deforestation-free palm oil. Investors should take note that companies that continue to deforest just aren’t going to have the same kind of market access as their competitors.”

French commitment

Also last week, the French Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil, which includes Nestlé, Carrefour, Cérélia, Ferrero and Vandemoortele, signed a charter committing to no deforestation in their palm oil supply chains by 2020 at the latest.

Head of The Forest Trust’s palm oil activities in France, Florie Loth, said: “Publicly signing a charter is a strong gesture, and political support is really important to raise awareness about the issues around palm oil. We believe this charter will encourage other French companies to commit to traceable and responsible palm oil that fully takes the needs of the environment and local people into consideration.”

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