Strides in producing sustainable palm oil “not matched” by uptake

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Palm oil, Sustainable palm oil, Indonesia

Strides in producing sustainable palm oil “not matched” by uptake
Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) has reached a “milestone” with production in excess of six million tonnes but market uptake has been slowing, according to RSPO figures.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a multi stakeholder initiative, said that over six million metric tonnes (mt) of CSPO was produced worldwide in less than four years, since RSPO certification began.

Within half a year alone the growth rate was 20 per cent in terms of both CSPO production area (1,221,240 hectares to date) and CSPO annual production capacity (6,017,193mt to date).

Meanwhile 11 new palm oil mills were certified in the first quarter of 2012, bringing the total mills to 146, primarily in Malaysia and Indonesia, and increasingly Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Latin America, and West Africa

But this needs to be matched by demand, according to Adam Harrison, WWF senior policy officer, RSPO executive board member and vice president.

He said: “Whilst this is great news from the producer members showing their real and growing commitment to sustainability, what we must see now is matching action from palm oil users.”

Harrison told FoodNavigator.com: “WWF does want more companies using palm oil to commit to using certified sustainable palm oil but more importantly to start buying it now.

“Most consumers are unaware that many of the everyday products they buy may contain palm oil so the manufacturers of these goods need to take the initiative themselves.

 “The difference in price for CSPO is relatively small and since palm oil usually only makes up a small part of any given product it is something we expect consumer goods manufacturers and retailers to do as part of their commitment to sustainability.”

Market uptake

In March the RSPO released its inaugural qualitative review called the “2011 RSPO CSPO Growth Interpretation Narrative”​ with figures including 2011, but not to date.

This stated that: “Over time there has been a good increase in market uptake, with that for CSPO rising from 25% in 2009 to 46% in 2010 and 52% in 2011; rising but on a slowing trend”.

The report added that increased demand in 2011 was aided by established buyers such as Unilever, Nestle and Kellogg and new entrants such as Conagra Foods.

Moving forward

One of RSPO’s three strategic goals is to increase CSPO uptake amongst current demand markets, while penetrating major new markets for sustainable palm oil, such as India and China.

RSPO secretary general, Darrel Webber, said: “More than 100 new members joined the RSPO during the first quarter of this year (2012), mostly from the European region and primarily from Germany and France, which we hope will continue to strengthen the demand for CSPO.”

About a third of RSPO members are processors and traders and another third are consumer goods manufacturers.

CSPO now represents approximately 11 per cent of global crude palm oil production.

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