Dispatches from Euro Fed Lipid Congress, Montpellier

CSPO may remain a niche unless it penetrates China and India, says expert

By Anna Bonar contact

- Last updated on GMT

“If we can’t penetrate those two markets, India and China, with sustainable palm oil then it will probably remain a niche,” said Unilever's global sustainable sourcing development director.
“If we can’t penetrate those two markets, India and China, with sustainable palm oil then it will probably remain a niche,” said Unilever's global sustainable sourcing development director.

Related tags: Sustainable palm oil, Palm oil

Certified Sustainable Palm Oil could remain a niche product unless it gains importance in India and China, according to former RSPO director Jan Kees Vis.

Vis said that RSPO's (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) biggest challenge was to formulate a proper strategy for global market transformation.

“If you look at total market of traded palm oil there are three big blocs: Europe, China and India which together make up about half of the traded volume in the world, but only the volume to Europe and North America comes with request for sustainability,”​ Vis told FoodNavigator.

“If we can’t penetrate those two markets, India and China, with sustainable palm oil then it will probably remain a niche,” ​he added.

Jan Kees Vis, received a European Lipid Technology award for his for his dedication and leadership regarding the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). The global sustainable sourcing development director at Unilever was awarded during the Euro Fed Lipid Congress in Montpellier.

“He has been president of RSPO for a period of almost 10 years. During which he has been driving for the development of principles and criteria of sustainable palm oil production resulting in the acceptation by all stakeholders of RSPO certified sustainable palm oil as a new product in the market,” ​said the nomination.

After almost ten years as RSPO’s director, Vis said that RSPO’s biggest achievement was the fact that it still existed.

“There are certain NGOs which believe the RSPO standard isn’t strong enough to justify the use of the word ‘sustainable’.”

Halfway there

Despite growing demand for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO), still only about 50% of the palm oil capacity that was certified was being sold.

“In certification of raw materials there is always a time lag between the production and the uptake in the marketplace. You need to change contracts; sometimes you need to change the suppliers, sometimes you have to change your packaging layout. There is also a premium involved for the differences in the supply chain mechanisms,” ​Vis explained.

Many of food giants are already using 100% certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) including Unilever, United Biscuits, Ferrero and Haribo, according to the most recent WWF scorecard.

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1 comment

Clean up our own yards first before looking at the neighbours.

Posted by Robert Hii,

How about we get all Western companies to start using actual CSPO first? Great things will happen from that action.

China and India where the average income is a fraction of what people make in the West would have little interest in sustainability. However, they can become consumers of CSPO by default if all RSPO member plantations were certified.

The only way to get RSPO growers to put more money into full certifications is support from brand members in the form of palm oil being bought at certified prices.

To suggest that growers aim for full certification when half the certified product today is sold at regular market prices would be meaningless.

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