The Danish ingredients firm is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and GreenPalm, which operates a web-based trading system for sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil.
The availability of sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil is a major breakthrough for the industry, and comes at a time when companies are increasingly called upon to show sustainability in every aspect of their sourcing.
Martin Klavs Nielsen, executive vice president for emulsifiers at Danisco, said the sustainable emulsifiers “opens up new opportunities for customers to meet consumer demand for sustainable foods”.
Since sustainable palm oil has become available, there are two ways in which companies can make use of it.
The first is to purchase certificates for sustainable palm oil, then to source palm oil requirements through the normal supply chain. Since the certificate is not tied to a batch, the actual oil received does not necessarily contain sustainable oil. Nonetheless, the user is supporting the mills which, for now, have to sell some of the oil that is produced sustainably into the mainstream market – thus losing out on the premium.
Alternatively, users can buy oil that has been sustainably produced (identity preserved) and/or kept separate from other palm oil throughout the entire supply chain. In this case, the buyer pays a premium directly at the time of purchase.
Danisco has purchased certificates, which would allow users of its palm-based emulsifiers to claim support of sustainable palm oil.
Nielsen told FoodNavigator.com that Danisco can also supply some identity preserved palm-based emulsifiers, but it is a more complicated process that could require close cooperation with the customer about what they want and where they want it.
In the IP-case, the emulsifier requested must be one that Danisco can make at its facility in Malaysia; the certificate-based palm, on the other hand, can be for emulsifier made at any of the global facilities since transportation is not such an issue.
Although Danisco has not yet made any IP palm-based emulsifiers, Nielsen said: “I believe we are fully set up to do it.”
For now, he sees the certificate-based system as a first step and expects IP “will become more relevant when there is big-scale availability and a transport system.”
As for when sustainable palm oil becomes mainstream, Nielsen said: “When people see the big players such as Unilever in the market, a lot of others will follow.”
Indeed, Unilever has been heavily involved in the RSPO. The president, Jan Kees Vis, is also director of sustainable agriculture at Unilever.
The first batch of sustainable palm oil, of 500 tonnes, was imported to Europe in November, with much fanfare. Amongst the food and consumer good firms to have bought some of the oil shipment are Unilever and Sainsbury’s.