Sustainable palm oil demand grows in Europe

by Jeff Gelski
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WORMERVEER, THE NETHERLANDS — Midway through this year IOI—Loders Croklaan Europe will begin to supply fully segregated palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (R.S.P.O.). Judging by recent company statements from Nestle S.A., Vevey, Switzerland, and Unilever P.L.C., London, a market exists for such product in Europe.

Loders Croklaan Europe’s segregation will ensure that sustainably produced palm oil will be kept physically separate from non-sustainable palm oil at every stage of the supply chain. European manufacturers who use the segregated palm oil will be able to make the claim, “This product contains only R.S.P.O.-certified palm oil,” according to Loders Croklaan Europe, which has an office in Wormerveer and is part of the IOI Group. Chris Linderman, business unit manager of Bulk Oils Europe for IOI—Loders Croklaan, made the announcement April 7 in Paris during a seminar on sustainable palm oil.

A new refinery in Rotterdam Maasvlakte, The Netherlands, is scheduled to open in June. It will have the storage capacity, infrastructure and technology necessary to keep sustainable palm oil wholly segregated from other oils.

The Loders Croklaan Europe announcement comes after Nestle S.A. said it plans to use only certified sustainable palm oil by 2015. In a March 18 statement, Nestle S.A. said, “Like many other companies, we buy palm oil from different suppliers. At this point in time these suppliers of palm oil say they can’t currently guarantee that one particular company is excluded, due to the mingling of palm oil in a very complex supply chain.

“We will continue to pressure our suppliers to eliminate any sources of palm oil that are related to rainforest destruction and to provide valid guarantees of traceability as quickly as possible. We will not portray palm oil as free of such oils unless such guarantees are clear and reliable.”

On April 7, Unilever said it had secured enough R.S.P.O.-endorsed GreenPalm certificates of sustainable palm oil to cover the requirements of its European business as well as the requirements for its business in Australia and New Zealand. The achievement is part of Unilever’s commitment to buy all of its palm oil from certified sustainable sources by 2015.

“Until suitable segregated supply chains become available, GreenPalm certificates are the best option to encourage growers to comply with the requirements of the R.S.P.O. and certify their plantations are sustainable,” said Gavin Neath, senior vice-president of global communications and sustainability for Unilever. “Our consumers can now confidently choose Unilever brands in the knowledge that we are actively supporting the development of a sustainable palm oil industry.”

Unilever in 2009 purchased 180,000 GreenPalm certificates at a premium to the market price for ordinary palm oil.

“We hope that our actions will transform the palm oil industry and help put a stop to deforestation in Southeast Asia,” Mr. Neath said.

Unilever, Nestle and IOI all belong to the R.SP.O., which was created in 2004 to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil products through global standards and engagement of stakeholders. The not-for-profit association unites stakeholders from palm oil producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation non-government organizations and social or developmental non-government organizations.

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