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Certified Sustainable Palm Oil Trade Exceeds 250,000 MT

oilpalmfruitMore than 250,000 tons (metric tons) of certified sustainable palm oil have been purchased (PDF) since its availability late last year, marking the first stages of a viable market for sustainable palm oil, according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). In the last two months alone, more than 100,000 tons of palm oil or corresponding certificates were acquired by companies globally, said RSPO.

The rise in sales of sustainable palm oil coincides with a growing number of companies publicly pledging to fully switch to sustainable palm oil within a certain time frame — most by 2015 — as all RSPO members are required to do.

In May, figures showed that only 1 percent, or about 15,000 tons, of sustainable palm oil available on the market was purchased, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The environmental group said at the time it would implement a buyer’s scorecard over the next six months to indicate whether or not the companies have fulfilled their commitments to purchase it. WWF helped set up the RSPO as an international body in 2002 to develop sustainability standards to help protect tropical forests.

By late October 2009, plantations in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea had produced more than 1.1 million tons of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) since they were officially certified, said RSPO. They can sell sustainable palm oil at a premium through various RSPO channels.

Over the past twelve months, certified producers were able to sell over 22 percent of their sustainable oil at a premium price. In September and October, market uptake rose to about 50 percent. Companies may claim the use of sustainable palm oil on their packaging if they follow RSPO’s guidelines.

Some of the most recent companies to announce their aim to use certified sustainable palm oil for their products include Seventh Generation and Unilever.

An estimated forty million tons of palm oil is produced globally per year, according to RSPO. About eighty percent comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, while the remainder is produced in West Africa, Latin America and Papua New Guinea. About four percent of global production capacity has been RSPO-certified.

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