Sustainable Palm Oil
FDF members are concerned about the destruction of rainforests and peat fields
in South East Asia caused by the creation of palm oil plantations and the
this is having on the environment, particularly in terms of greenhouse gas
emissions and loss of biodiversity.
That is why many FDF members are committed to working with their supply chain
partners to achieve 100% use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) – using
various mechanisms from GreenPalm certificates to segregation.
FDF supports the work of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to
promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil and to bring CSPO to the
through a multilateral process that includes all stakeholders in the palm oil
Some people perceive the RSPO to be too slow and limited in scope to achieve
desired change. However, FDF believes that credible and effective progress can
be made through a legitimate multi-stakeholder organisation like the RSPO,
takes account of all relevant factors impacting on the supply chain and
market confidence in its approach to sustainability certification.
A key challenge is that many food manufacturers use certain parts of palm oil,
known as fractions as well as blends. Some of these complex fractions or blends
are not currently available as CSPO. FDF therefore supports the continuing
efforts by the global marketplace to establish a solution that will deliver
supplies of competitively priced CSPO across all complex fractions.
Palm oil is an important and versatile raw material for both the food and
non-food industries. Whilst palm oil is cost-effective, it is also a key raw
because of its unique physical properties, being a particularly consistent
ingredient that is very compatible with certain ingredients such as in
Palm oil is invariably blended with other oils and fats like sunflower or
rapeseed oil to produce food products. Palm oil fractions and kernel oil have
an important role in recent years in eliminating trans-fatty acids from
manufactured foods. It specifically enables the continued provision of solid
fats for use
by food manufacturers.
There is also increasing consumer demand for food made with ingredients that are
not GM-derived or of animal origin. UK food and drink manufacturers can
to provide choice for these consumers by using a non-GM vegetable oil such as
Furthermore, palm oil produces the highest yield of oil per unit area.
Therefore, careful consideration would need to be given to moving away from the
palm oil in case alternative ingredients were to place an even greater strain
1. Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
Working with the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET), FDF produced a
guide setting out a simple step-by-step process to help food and drink
manufacturers of all sizes source 100% CSPO. This is supported by a detailed Q&A and supplier questionnaire, while CPET has run a series of webinars.
Around 185 million metric tonnes of vegetable oil are produced worldwide every year, of which 39% is palm oil and palm kernel oil, the world’s largest oil crop. 86% of the world’s palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia, with the balance
coming largely from other parts of South-East Asia, South America and West
Africa. This oil is exported worldwide and used as a key raw material for food,
non-food industries and biofuels. Because of its versatility, increasing
demand for palm oil, particularly in China and India, has resulted in a rapid
expansion of production. Whilst the best oil palm plantations serve as models
sustainable agriculture, serious concerns have been raised that not all palm
being produced sustainably.
Palm oil can be used to produce a variety of food products including: margarine,
confectionery, snack foods, biscuits, cakes, sauces, condensed milk, powdered
milk, non-milk fats used in coffee and ice-cream. As well as food products,
oil is used in the manufacture of soaps, detergents, candles, cosmetics,
pharmaceuticals, animal feed, biodiesel, household and industrial products.
Figures show that since 1999 the share of food industries’ use of palm and palm
kernel oil in Europe has fallen from 82% to 47%, whereas the share of
use has risen from 16% to 80%.
As part of a global strategy on sustainable sourcing of commodities, the
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formally established in April
The RSPO aims to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through
co-operation within the supply chain and open dialogue with its stakeholders.
its formation, the RSPO has grown steadily in size, now with more than 2,800
members. It has established an RSPO certification system which has brought more
82 million tonnes of CSPO and CSPKO onto the global market place since 2008.
On 30 October 2012, FDF signed up to a UK statement on the sustainable
production of palm oil. The statement draws together new and existing commitments on the sourcing of
sustainable palm oil made by organisations representing businesses within the
palm oil supply chain. The statement publicises the progress being made by UK
business sectors on sustainable sourcing and sets out their commitments to
action with the ambition of sourcing 100% certified sustainable palm oil and
palm kernel oil by 2015.
On 17 November 2015, Defra published a third annual progress report which
includes a statement from FDF highlighting the efforts of our members. Latest
UK palm oil consumption data . for 2014 shows that 72-93% of UK palm oil was sourced in 2014 via
RSPO certified supply chain systems, up from 2013 figures of 55-71%. The
majority of this growth was as a result of a 30% rise in purchases of
mass balance palm oil.
On Monday 7 December 2015, a Commitment to 100% Sustainable Palm in Europe was
launched at the EU and Global Value Chains’ conference. FDF is a founder
signatory of this new initiative which aims to stimulate uptake of more
palm oil in Europe by working in close collaboration with national palm oil
sustainability initiatives. Huge progress has been achieved by UK food and drink
UK national ambition launched in 2012, but to succeed in tackling
challenges, further collaborative action is required to drive systemic change
across whole supply chains.
Challenges remain, not least the ongoing lack of availability of complex
fractions and derivatives of palm oil and palm kernel oil. Increasing demand
continued collaborative action between suppliers, manufacturers and retailers
UK palm oil supply chain may help to improve this situation, however the UK
acting alone cannot completely transform the market and the highly complex
derivatives supply chain.
RSPO membership and chain of custody audit requirements can be a barrier to
small businesses engaging and communicating publicly on their use of
palm oil. Manufacturers already face multiple customer audits and their uptake
sustainable palm oil could be aided by addressing the overall cost and
of audit requirements imposed on food and drink producers.
2. USDA 2015
Last reviewed: 19 May 2016
3. USDA 2015
4. USDA 2015
5. USDA 2015(food industry 50%; industrial use 46%; and feed waste 4% of total EU
6. RSPO, May 2016
7. Defra, 30 October 2012
8. Defra, 17 November 2015
9. Defra, 17 November 2015
10 European Palm Oil Commitment, December 2015