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10 Food and Beverage Companies Commit To Sustainable Palm Oil

sustainable palm oil
(Photo: Palm oil fruit. Credit: Center for International Forestry Research, Flickr Creative Commons)

A number of food and beverage companies based in Singapore have committed to sourcing sustainable palm oil in recent years. That total jumped by 10 today to include major national brands such as Crystal Jade, F&N, and TungLok, the Straits Times reported.

The ten companies officially joined the Southeast Asia Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil (SASPO), a business initiative led by the World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore aiming to lower barriers to sustainable sourcing policies. Formed in 2016 with Danone, Ayam Brand, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, IKEA, and Unilever, SASPO has experienced a 200% spike in new membership, according to the initiative.

Numerous beauty and food products use palm oil, a popular replacement for hydrogenated vegetable oils and other emulsifiers, Triple Pundit reported. Demand has grown for palm oil, but production is rife with social and environmental issues not limited to deforestation and forced labor. Currently 85% of the world’s palm oil comes from Southeast Asia, Channel NewsAsia noted.

Switching to sustainable palm oil adds 10% to a company’s operating costs, SASPO’s new members said at an event today in Singapore. “It’s a very small difference,” TungLok Restaurants president and CEO Andrew Tijioe said. “In the same way as people are willing to pay more for organic products, this [added cost] is not a problem in Singapore.”

Unilever, which first launched a sustainable palm oil sourcing policy in 2013, announced last week that it will become the first consumer goods company to publicly disclose the suppliers and mills it sources from — directly and indirectly, Supply Chain Magazine reported.

“Effective engagement with suppliers is crucial in transforming the palm oil industry to eliminate deforestation and help us meet our sustainable palm oil commitments,” the company says. “We will work with suppliers, traders, and refiners to source palm oil and derivatives that will be traceable to known sources for the vast majority of our purchased oils.”

The Kraft Heinz Company is also working on sustainable palm oil sourcing by collaborating with the Rainforest Alliance and joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). In a CSR report published last December, the company says that 100% of its purchased volumes of palm oil are certified sustainable via the RSPO and 90.24% is traceable to the mill of origin.

“Retailers especially have an important role to play in the widespread adoption of certified sustainable palm oil, as they can help move private label manufacturers and consumer packaged goods companies in the direction of sustainable purchasing,” RSPO’s US representative for outreach Dan Strechay wrote in a recent op-ed. “Through their ongoing engagement with suppliers, they are well positioned to have a voice in ensuring those who farm and produce the crop are doing so in a way that respects both the environment and the people who grow it.”

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