Fedepalma and IDH sign co-financing agreement for sustainable palm oil

Fedeplama and IDH – the Sustainable Trade Initiative signed a co-financing agreement for $2 million on 25 August to confirm their commitment to strengthening the sustainable production of Colombian palm oil, in an online ceremony hosted from Bogota (Colombia), with Ceniplama as technical partner.

With an investment of around $2 million, this represents the beginning of a plan with significant potential for the palm oil industry and for the country.

Jens Mesa Dishington, executive president of Fedepalma, announced the official start of the project ‘Sustainable Palm Oil of Colombia’, in the departments of Cesar and Magdalena, and explained that this alliance aims to strengthen extension services in 11 Palm Oil hubs, including 1,642 producers (82 per cent of them small producers); 11 extractors, specialists, suppliers and other stakeholders in the palm oil value chain.

He said: “Today, the commitment and conviction of the palm growers and the guild to open up new opportunities for the sector has materialised, and this has been a longstanding objective. This path started in 2018 with a visit to the Netherlands where we began the relationship and the search for synergies between Fedepalma and IDH and for which we always have the support of the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture”.

Through this initiative, Fedepalma, Cenipalma and IDH will drive change to contribute to agricultural sustainability.

Colombia is the fourth largest producer of palm oil in the world, with a small share in relation to the countries of Southeast Asia.

This project builds on these attributes and responds to the Europena Green Deal, which aims for more sustainable supply chains, with the palm oil supply chain in particularly sharp focus. The news also comes as the UK government and other countries consider tightening regulation on deforestation-linked supply chains. If the legislation is passed, this would increase demand from the British market for sustainable palm oil.

This initiative represents a message of hope, for it shows that there is a will and the possibility to collaborate on constructive and forward-looking issues for Colombia and the world.

The expert voice of IDH
Daan Wensing, Program Director Global Landscapes at IDH, thanked the Palm Oil industry for this commitment from a global perspective, explaining that the partners of the Agreement will contribute to agricultural sustainability, which will attract investors and donors to leverage the funds needed for transformational change according to the principles of the landscape approach.

“This approach seeks to balance land use demands in the best possible way for human well-being and for the environment. This means creating solutions that consider food and livelihoods, finances, rights, restoration and progress towards climate and development goals”, said the director, confirming that this presents an opportunity for Colombia and the palm oil industry in terms of access to investments, markets and greater credibility and reputation for agribusiness.

Through this long-term alliance, based on shared values and aspirations, the partners seek to bolster the transition of the Colombian and global palm oil industry. Through the PPI approach on its three fronts (production, protection and inclusion), IDH consolidates territories where agricultural products are sustainably grown, forests and natural resources are protected, and communities prosper under this agro-industrial model.

Wensing underscored that trust and projection are based on the identity, synergy, and good teamwork among the three organizations, and that they will continue to develop projects and seek alliances to strengthen and expand the impact and coverage of the Sustainable Palm Oil strategy for the entire Colombian palm sector.

This sustainable sourcing strategy further develops previous experience in the Colombian palm oil industry towards sustainable practices, and will help make these further specialized and increase their geographic coverage.

Cenipalma, a key player in science and research
Similarly, Alexand Cooman, managing director of Cenipalma, commented that this is a start-up project for others to come in the future and that their ambition is to have interdisciplinary and cross-cutting programmes that integrate the capacity of the sector and its allies.

He said that palm oil productivity had fallen in the departments of Cesar and Magdalena over the last three years, due to water and plant health effects, and that the solution must be comprehensive with territorial management that involves both technical-productive work on the farm and coordination with public, private and civil players.

He estimated that the extension methods, good practices and indicators to be developed are based on years of research, development and application by Cenipalma and the technical teams of the Palm Growers Hubs, in collaboration with global experts.

Palm oil-free certification trademark goes global

The Palm Oil-Free Accreditation Program (POFAP) has launched the world’s first Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark in Australia. Now, two years on, POFCAP celebrates its second birthday with 1,088 products having been Certified Palm Oil Free with hundreds more currently under assessment. The trademark is approved in 19 countries – Australia, Scotland, Spain, N. Ireland, Austria, England, Wales, Sweden, the USA, Italy, France, Finland, NZ, Singapore, Norway and India with three others to be announced soon.

Jabrick – the cheeky little orang-utan featured on the certification trademark who was herself a victim of deforestation, will soon be seen on packaging globally.

Since inception, there have been many World Firsts for POFCAP. In particular, the world first assessments of a Vegetable Oil Producer and Manufacturer (MSM Milling/Australia), a Vitamin Brand (Viridian Nutrition/England), a ‘Free From’ Snack Company (Enjoy Life Foods/ USA), an Infant Formula (LittleOak/NZ), a Café (El Piano/England), a Cooking School (Squaw Pies/Scotland), a Cosmetic Brand (Sugar Venom/Australia), a Skincare Brand (Amaranthine/Scotland) and a Raw Material Manufacturer (Afyren/France).

READ MORE: Nestle pledges to user only certified sustainable palm oil

Palm oil use is widespread with the majority of supermarket products containing either palm oil or one of its many thousands of derivatives. The topic evokes robust discussion around both health and environment. With over 80 per cent of palm oil being produced unsustainably the concerns surrounding the impact on rainforests, wildlife and the climate crisis has seen many more people seeking products which are genuinely palm oil free, but, unless the product has been assessed by an independent and approved certification program it is almost impossible to tell which palm oil free claims are correct as many are not.

About the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark (POFCAP)
POFCAP the only International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark in the World launched in Australia in late 2017 and is now Global with approval to certify brands in 20 countries. POFCAP assesses products as to their palm oil free status. Two of the programme’s aims are to assist consumers who wish to avoid palm oil for allergy, dietary or ethical reasons when shopping for genuine, independently assessed palm oil free products and distribute 100% of profits to POFCAP’s Partner NGOs working to protect rainforests

Nestlé pledges to use only certified sustainable palm oil within five years

Well known chocolate manufacturer Nestlé is committed to using certified sustainable palm oil in all its products by 2023.

On Monday, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO ) reinstated Nestlé’s membership following its time-bound action plan to achieve 100 per cent RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.

RSPO and Nestlé’s vision is to transform the palm oil industry for a sustainable future.

In a bid to achieve this they believe the entire industry needs to be more transparent and inclusive.

Achieving this also requires direct supply chain engagement and capacity building throughout the supply chain.

Nestlé’s global head of responsible sourcing Benjamin Ware said transparency in Nestlé’s supply chain had always been a priority.

“Nestlé has always been committed to implementing responsible sourcing and has made significant progress towards our commitment to using fully responsibly sourced palm oil.

“Nestlé supports RSPO’s role in driving industry wide change and appreciates its decision following the submission of our action plan, which focuses on increasing traceability primarily through segregated RSPO palm oil.

“This builds on Nestlé’s ongoing activities to achieve a traceable and responsibly sourced palm oil supply chain.”

Nestlé would play a leading role within RSPO by participating in working groups and sharing its experiences in addressing some of the critical environmental and socio-economic challenges affecting the sector, said Ware.

“In line with the RSPO’s objectives, this work will focus on preventing deforestation, particularly the protection of peatland and high-carbon stock land, as well as respecting human rights across the value chain,” said Ware.

RSPO CEO Darrel Webber said when joining RSPO all members made a commitment to transform the palm oil industry.

“Nestlé has pledged to step up their efforts in working actively on solutions within the RSPO system, via active participation.

“It’s with this in mind that we are welcoming Nestlé back to the Roundtable, confident they will live up to our membership obligations and succeed in delivering on their time-bound plan. We trust that by working collectively we are able to realise a sustainable, respectful and responsible palm oil industry.”

Sustainable palm oil: A complex issue

With new labelling choices launched recently in Australia to certify products that are palm oil free, opinions differ on the best way to deal with the complex issue.

The story of palm oil and its supply is a complex one, sometimes pitting environmentalists against economists, and at times against each other. Many of the facts are simple and undeniable. Palm oil appears in many products on supermarket shelves, ranging from foods such as margarine, chocolate and ice cream to soaps and cosmetics. It is also used in fuels for vehicles and power plants.

The problem is, as The State of the World’s Forests 2016 (a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United nations) points out, some palm oil plantations contribute to deforestation. This, in turn, leads to a loss of habitat for animals, including the orangutan which has become a poster child for organisations seeking to increase consumer awareness around the issue.

Many in the food manufacturing industry have started to address the problem. For example, US agribusiness giant Cargill suspended business with a Guatemalan producer in December over breaches of the firm’s sustainable palm oil policy, and countries such as Malaysia are introducing their own certification processes.

A 2013 report commissioned by WWF-Australia and the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), Palm Oil in Australia Facts, Issues and Challenges, states that “the plight of the orangutan has led to public engagement on the production and use of palm oil”.

However, it continues: “Palm oil provides opportunities to support economic and social development in some of the poorest areas in the world.”

With all this in mind, we looked at some of the groups addressing the complicated and often controversial issue.

Orangutan Alliance

The Melbourne-based Orangutan Alliance was launched in early 2017 and instituted its International No Palm Oil Certification Program later in the year. Its trademark is pending by IP Australia.

Founder and chairperson Maria Abadilla said the organisation was established to support conservation projects, and does that through its Palm Oil Free Certification and grants.

Existing legislation in Australia or New Zealand does not require transparency in labelling, she said, and even when it does appear on an ingredients list, there are more than 200 alternative names for palm oil.

“People need to know that, to be able to see the saturated fats, whether palm oil is present if that’s what they’re looking for, but also for their choice,” she said.

Palm oil is a complex issue, but an ecological emergency, Abadilla said.

“The solution will need to come from different groups from new technology, policy change to reforestation,” she said. “Orangutan Alliance is here to provide consumer choice particularly in the absence of clear labelling in some countries.”

Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Program 

Bev Luff, spokeswoman for the Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Program (POFCAP), said the POFCAP Trademark was approved by IP Australia and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in November 2016, and the program launched last year to coincide with International Orangutan Day on August 19.

The certification was also approved last year by the Intellectual Property Office of the United Kingdom, the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office and the Austrian Patent Office, she said. Applications are pending in a further 11 countries.

Luff said while POFCAP supports the idea of “non-conflict palm oil”,
as POFCAP refers to sustainable production, only 17 per cent of all palm oil is currently certified as such.

Many organisations had worked hard to discourage deforestation and educate the public and industries of the issues surrounding palm oil production, she said, but the rate
of deforestation continues to be alarming.

“There are also people who avoid palm oil for health reasons – they may or may not care about the environmental issues surrounding its production but they care what they put in their bodies and in their homes,” said Luff.

Luff said POFCAP was not an educational, conservation or political program. “POFCAP purely exists to certify if a product is 100 per cent palm oil free,” she said.

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

The inaugural meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was held in Malaysia in 2003.

The not-for-profit unites stakeholders from all sectors of the palm oil industry – oil palm producers, processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks/investors, and environmental and social non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

The RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).

The organisation not only certifies palm oil as sustainable, but oversees the trade in RSPO Credits, which promote the production of certified palm oil. Working in a similar manner to carbon offsets, an RSPO credit is proof that one tonne of certified palm oil was produced by an RSPO- certified company or independent producer, and has entered the palm oil supply chain.

The RSPO has more than 3,000 members worldwide who represent all links along the palm oil supply chain.

They have committed to produce, source and/or use sustainable palm oil certified by the RSPO.

WWF

Josh Bishop, head of Sustainable Food for WWF-Australia, agrees that one of the most significant threats to the world’s biodiversity, mainly because the plantations displace tropical rainforests that are the habitat for many endangered species.

WWF looks for ways to reconcile the need for food, including palm oil, with the conservation of ecosystems and wildlife, he said.

“Our interest in palm oil is partly to document and confront the threat but also to try and find practical solutions that are economically feasible and help us feed humanity without destroying the planet.”

Part of the solution is having agreed land use plans agreed to by all stakeholders, including the industry and rural communities, he said.

Palm oil is used in the production of everything from margarine, chocolate and ice cream to soaps and cosmetics.
Palm oil.

 

“And then, in those areas where food production is agreed to be the best use of the land, try to ensure that the production practices are as responsible as possible, which means minimising impact on wildlife but also minimising impact on the climate, on water resources, and any adverse impacts on rural communities.”

WWF helped establish the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, and argues it is possible to achieve “good” palm oil. WWF recognises the importance of palm oil to the economies of many developing countries, and that its production is a much more efficient use of land than that of canola oil or soy oil, Bishop said.

About 20 per cent of global palm oil production is certified, but he acknowledged the provenance of the remaining 80 per cent is problematic.

“It is definitely a problem,” he said, “but there is a practical solution that is available, it’s not terrifically expensive, and there’s no reason why companies can’t switch to sustainable palm oil, including physical supplies of palm oil. It is available in Australia for those who want it.”

AFGC

James Mathews director of ommunications for the AFGC, said palm oil is a fundamental ingredient in some products in the supply chain and there is a lot of consumer misunderstanding about the issue.

“The industry takes information to its consumers seriously, and this is a huge ecological issue of which many companies have invested significantly in sustainable palm oil supply and certified palm oil supply,” he said.

“We are aware that while there is an ecological issue, there’s also the fact that many communities rely on palm oil for their economic lifeblood.”

The AFGC does not support specific trademarks or certifications but believes that improving consumer awareness and transparency of sourcing is vital.

Mathews said there is a risk of demonising an entire industry when there are organisations that are trying to ensure its production in a sustainable, responsible manner.

“You have to be careful to make sure the information is available to consumers, that consumers have some awareness that there is responsible palm oil sourcing through some of the company policies, and we would encourage more and more companies to do that,” he said.

“We would want to act as an incentive, not a disincentive.”

Palm Oil Free Certification launched to protect orangutans

The world’s first International Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Programme (POFCAP) has been launched.

Australia and the UK are the first two countries to adopt the Trademark following approval by their respective authorities – the Australian, Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), IP Australia & IPO UK. A further 14 nations have applications pending in a landmark move in response to consumer demand for transparency in labelling on the topical issue.

With the goal being to sit within the same realm as other respected certification trademarks such as Cruelty Free, Certified Organic, Vegan and Fair Trade, POFCAP’s team, aside from working with trademark offices across the globe, is currently liaising with a number of large and small companies that are seeking to certify products.

Jabrick – the orang-utan on the logo who was herself a victim of deforestation will one day look out at shoppers from supermarket shelves across the world.

The team behind POFCAP comprises a group of passionate women who have educated, campaigned, fundraised for and championed the numerous issues surrounding Palm Oil for many years.

The complicated and contentious concerns surrounding the use of Palm Oil, the impact the harvesting of the product has on the rainforests and wildlife – and in turn consumer demand for such accreditation was the driving force behind the motivation to research, develop and trademark the certification process that has evolved over the past eight years.

Use of Palm Oil is exceptionally widespread with the majority of food, cosmetics and, household cleaning products containing either palm oil or one of its many hundred derivatives.  The topic evokes robust discussion around both health and environmental issues with deforestation, loss of habitat and resultant wildlife deaths leading the agenda.

“Members of the POFCAP team have been involved with researching and educating people on Palm Oil production for a long time and have been increasingly inundated with people asking where or how they could buy Palm Oil free products.  With no fully certified Palm Oil free Accreditation Program or Trademark in existence globally we decided the only way forward was to create one” said spokesperson Bev Luff .

 

DuPont reaches 100% certified sustainable palm oil emulsifiers

DuPont Nutrition & Health has completed its switch to 100% certified sustainable palm oil and palm oil derivatives used in its Global emulsifier production. The achievement is the latest milestone since the company pioneered the introduction of sustainable palm oil emulsifiers in 2009.

Following the 2009 launch of the world’s first palm oil emulsifiers from Mass Balance supply chain certified by Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the first emulsifiers made with RSPO-certified Segregated palm oil joined the DuPont Danisco range in 2011.

The new development means that the remainder of the company’s entire global range of palm-based emulsifiers is now based on RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil and derivatives, which promotes the production of palm oil with greater consideration of its environmental and social impacts.

Brenda Kelly, business director, DuPont Nutrition & Health explains the motivation behind this move.

“At DuPont, we are committed to reducing the environmental impact from all of our raw materials, operations and final products. As such, it is clearly critical that we start by obtaining our raw materials with recognized, sustainable certification.”

In addition, DuPont recently announced a strengthening of its sustainable footprint for emulsifiers by converting to woodchips at its Grindsted facility, Denmark, which is one of the world’s largest emulsifier plants. The change means a reduction of 45,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to removing 20,000 average Danish cars from the road for a year.

Ferrero & Nestle both get green ticks of approval from Greenpeace

Chocolate-maker Ferrero and food company Nestle have topped the global ranking for being tree—friendly with their commitment to stop using non-plantation palm oil in their products.

In its latest report, Greenpeace commended Ferrero, the Italian manufacturer of Ferrero Rocher and Nutella, as well as multinational food company Nestle on their track records to cut deforestation and completely remove non-plantation grown palm oil from their supply chains.

Out of the 14 global companies that were evaluated by Greenpeace, Ferrero for example was found to be able to trace almost 100 per cent of its palm oil to the actual planation where it was grown.

Nestle for its part was praised for its substantial traceability of its raw materials back to the plantation, which in itself is quite significant considering the amount of raw materials that Nestle uses year on year.

“Palm oil is found in so many products, which is why brands have a responsibility to their customers to act,” said Annisa Rahmawati of Greenpeace Indonesia – an area where deforestation for palm oil plantations poses a ‘major threat to endangered animals'. 

“Palm oil can be grown responsibly without destroying forests, harming local communities or threatening orangutans. But our survey shows that brands are not doing enough to stop the palm oil industry ransacking Indonesia's rainforests.”

On the other end of the green scale, Pepsi was given a failed ratings with its palm oil progress. According to Greenpeace, this was due to its slow progress on tracing palm oil and reducing exposure to deforestation.

PepsiCo, as well as food companies like Unilever were also criticised by Greenpeace for using the GreenPalm scheme, whereby companies buy certificates from a palm oil grower certified by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil to offset each tonne of the ingredient they use. 

While there is no guarantee the palm oil is actaully certified sustainable by using the GreenPalm scheme, Greenpeace went further to label the program a "false solution" and said companies should phase out their use of the certificates.

According to edie.net, the 14 companies reviewed by Greenpeace in this report are: Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Ferrero, General Mills, Ikea, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez, Nestle, Orkla, PepsiCo, P&G and Unilever.