GreenPalm, which enables manufacturers and retailers to support RSPO-certified producers of palm products, is urging delegates at the RSPO’s annual European conference to consider smallholders, independent mills and other producers without a route to export, when making their commitments to ethical sourcing.
Recent calls for a target of 100% usage of certified sustainable palm oil, palm kernel oil, palm kernel expeller and its many fractions and derivatives could potentially exclude a vast percentage of the supply chain.
Of the four RSPO supply chain options, Book and Claim, operated by GreenPalm, enables any size of palm oil grower, including small, independent producers, to play a part in sustainable palm production by earning certificates for their certified fresh fruit bunches and trading them with manufacturers and retailers. The producer earns a premium, the buyer can claim its support, and the certified oil enters the general palm oil supply.
GreenPalm manager Bob Norman said: “This issue is not just about the big multinationals, and recent news story highlighted this.
“For the palm industry to achieve 100% transformation everyone involved must play a part, from the smallholder in Thailand farming three or four hectares to the private-label manufacturer using 10 tonnes a year, and from the plantations and mills owned by multinational giants to the global brands using hundreds of thousands of tonnes.
“Independent smallholders and non-integrated mills, whose product is consumed locally and will never be exported, can play a part only if they can earn a premium for the costs and commitment required to be RSPO-certified.
“Smallholders contribute 30-40% of the palm oil produced globally. In Thailand, whose capital Bangkok is the venue for the RSPO’s annual roundtable summit in November, the figure is 70%; in Latin America 80%.
“GreenPalm enables those parties to be involved in transforming the palm oil industry, and it also offers buyers traceability back to a specific, chosen producer and soon back to mill level for integrated producers.”RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil still accounts for only 20% of global palm oil production approaching 60 million tonnes.
Sales of certified palm oil are increasing, but demand continues to lag behind supply.
Bob Norman added: “The challenge is to stimulate overall demand and to allow certified sustainable palm oil to be inclusive. We have to ask the question: Do you want to change the industry at its very core, or just the physical material you use in your products? If it’s the former, we have to make it possible for everyone to be involved.
“Certain countries in Europe, such as the UK, are further along the journey than others. But individual countries are still at different stages, and not every sector is represented in the national commitments that currently exist. There would need to be an EU directive and a strategy for every country to follow if such targets were to be met!
“At the heart of this is inclusivity.”
Sustainable palm oil - the journey so far