European 100% sustainable palm oil target is realistic, says RSPO

By Daisy Phillipson

- Last updated on GMT

CSPO could help tackle consumer concerns about deforestation and biodiversity loss, said Morley
CSPO could help tackle consumer concerns about deforestation and biodiversity loss, said Morley

Related tags: Palm oil, Oil palm, Biodiversity

Reaching the goal of 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) in Europe by 2020 is a big challenge with significant barriers, says RSPO, but one that is ultimately achievable with company and national commitments.

According to Danielle Morley, European director of outreach and engagement at RSPO, some large companies who have the resources are reluctant due to additional costs, while many SMEs have little time and lack resources.

“However, many large companies already have commitments to be 100% CSPO, and almost all the major food brands have or are moving rapidly towards 100% CSPO,” ​she told FoodNavigator.

What are the barriers?

Morley recognises that RSPO continues to face a credibility challenge. Doubts from some stakeholders about the thoroughness of the RSPO standard and its capacity to enforce it will have to be overcome if all players in the market are to switch to or stick with CSPO.

“Our strategy is to openly acknowledge these issues, because full transparency will help us convince all parties that RSPO has not been created to hide the issues and greenwash them, but to expose them and facilitate the finding of shared solutions,” ​she said. “Stakeholder pressure on all the links of the supply chain has been one of the key factors in driving the recent commitment adopted by large growers and refiners such as Wilmar and Cargill.”

Incentives for European businesses

Morley said that following changes to EU food labelling laws in 2014, 500 million European consumers were now aware of the presence of palm oil in their food products, which they link with deforestation.

“Together with NGOs, they are putting pressure on companies to ensure that their products, and the palm oil in them, are not linked to deforestation,” ​she said. “Companies that want to preserve their reputation as responsible businesses will want to have sustainable palm oil in their products.”

Segregated supply is generally growing

Compared with mass balance and book and claim states Morley, segregated supply is generally growing. In 2014, 2.4m tonnes of segregated and mass balance palm oil were sold, compared to the 1.6m tonnes sold in 2013. In Europe RSPO encourages companies to move beyond book and claim (GreenPalm certificates) at the earliest possible opportunity and Morley said it would continue to encourage maximum uptake in the segregated supply chain option.

Is CSPO enough to win back EU consumers?

According to Morley, many consumers want to cut palm oil from their products due to a link with deforestation and destruction of biodiversity and CSPO is part of the solution to these problems.

“Moving to sustainable palm oil rather than substitution is necessary as alternatives to palm oil have between 4-10 times less yield per hectare than the oil palm meaning that to meet the world’s growing demand for oil without palm oil would probably result in more deforestation, not less.”

Traceability and certification are also important for consumers and are an integral part of the RSPO supply chain system, she said.

By stressing these messages more with consumers, RSPO believes there is a will and a way to reach 100% sustainable palm oil targets by 2020. 

Related topics: Sustainability, Policy, Fats & oils

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