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Palm oil free certification scheme launched

4 commentsBy Katy Askew , 14-Aug-2017
Last updated on 14-Aug-2017 at 14:16 GMT2017-08-14T14:16:54Z

©lpu9945/iStock
©lpu9945/iStock

A new certification programme, the International Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Programme (POFCAP), has been developed to enable food makers to demonstrate that their products were manufactured without the use of palm oil.

The POFCAP trademark has been approved by regulators in Australia and the UK. A further 14 countries have applications pending for the certification scheme, which was established in response to growing consumer demand for transparency over the use of palm oil in FMCG products.

“A company applies to POFCAP, we assess their application and if we can prove their products are 100% palm oil free the products will be certified and the company will then have access to the Palm Oil Free Certification trademark to use on their certified products,” POFCAP’s Bev Luff told FoodNavigator.

Unveiling the scheme, Luff said the aim was for it to sit alongside other “respected certification trademarks” such as cruelty-free, certified organic, vegan and fair trade. “We see this trademark one day sitting alongside the likes of fair trade and cruelty-free which are obviously good for those companies displaying those trademarks, they are great for the issues they represent and enable educated choices to be made by the public.”

The team is currently liaising with an unspecified number of “large and small” companies interested in adopting the mark. Luff said it was too early to provide further details on the level of food industry interest. “We’re not at liberty to expand on that further at this point but watch this space. We’re really pleased with the feedback we’re receiving from all over the world.”

‘First of its kind’

POFCAP is the first scheme that can certify that a product does not contain palm oil, Luff claimed.

“POFCAP is a world’s first of its kind. Up until now, there has been no government approved body able to certify if a product contains palm oil or not,” Luff stressed. “We differ from any existing schemes as we are not involved in certifying anything to do with palm oil supply…. We are only focused on certifying a product to be palm oil free.”

Other palm oil certification schemes, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, look at whether the palm oil used has been sourced in a sustainable fashion.

POFCAP noted that, while these programmes have been important in fighting deforestation, progress on building sustainable palm oil supply chains is “slow and arduous”. For example, currently, only 17% of globally sourced palm oil can be classed as 'non-conflict', POFCAP claimed.

Consumer awareness rising

POFCAP aims to allow manufacturers who produce products without using palm oil to communicate this to consumers in a clear and trusted way.

It is believed that a palm oil-free message is increasingly gaining traction with consumers.

Luff noted: “Consumers the world over are becoming more aware of palm oil – their demand is what drove the POFCAP team to develop our research methods and trademark this world-first classification.

“We believe that consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about their purchase choices. Social media for instance has played a big part in making the public more aware of many global topics and they in turn are making purchases in line with their beliefs.”

Certification is product based, not brand based, because many companies have both products containing palm oil or its derivatives and palm oil free products within their portfolios.

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4 comments

Opportunity for shea butter

An interesting initiative which might allow the chance for diversification and market entry by other edible oils and fats. For example refined shea butter, produced in biodiverse traditional agroforestry food-production systems across 3.5 million square kilometres of the African Sahel-Savannah, could be a one alternative to whole palm oil. Reliance on so few food species and clearance of biodiverse ecosystems is a major threat to humanity's survival.

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Posted by Dr. Peter Lovett
24 August 2017 | 11h072017-08-24T11:07:07Z

What Palm Oil free means

Palm oil high yield means using other oils will accelerate deforestation by up to 20 times more. Why would consumers choose these more extensive forest destroying products.

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Posted by Tsyusof
23 August 2017 | 23h312017-08-23T23:31:45Z

The problem is not oil palm as such, but the way it is sometimes produced!

Agree with Marcello; Boycotting palm oil, or creating palm free products is not the solution. Palm oil is a very high yielding crop, which can be produced highly sustainable. We should avoid the negative impacts, rather than ban it in favour of other oils.

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Posted by Marieke Leegwater
21 August 2017 | 11h472017-08-21T11:47:14Z

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