Sustainable palm oil
Demand for palm oil is increasing worldwide, with around 80 per cent of total requirements being covered by Indonesia and Malaysia. The cultivation of this raw material is not without its problems, however, as it requires large areas of land and causes the destruction of rainforests.
This is why, for our own-label brands, we use only sustainably produced palm oil that can be traced all the way back to its origins. Since 2004, we have been a member of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an association that promotes the production of palm oil under socially and environmentally acceptable conditions. In concrete terms, this means that no more rainforests were cleared from 2005 onwards, laws are complied with and working conditions are fair and safe.
What have we achieved?
We need around 2,250 tonnes of palm oil a year for our own-label products food, 92,7 per cent of which already comes from sustainable cultivation (Status: 2015). The origin of the palm oil is traceable and it corresponds to the RSPO Identity Preserved, RSPO Segregated or Bio Suisse standards. We set ourselves the goal, by the end of 2016, of using only palm oil from sustainable cultivation in our own-label food products.
We are also taking steps in non-food areas: In 2013, for example, we succeeded in switching to an RSPO Mass Balance standard with the palm oil used as an ingredient in the washing and cleaning products from our subsidiary Steinfels Swiss – and were the first retailer to do so. In our own-label non-food products, we aim, by 2020, to be using only palm oil that is certified as a minimum to the level of the RSPO Mass Balance standard.
The four RSPO standards stand for the following:
- Identity Preserved: strict separation of palm oil from sustainable sources from non-sustainable palm oil along the entire supply chain. Sustainable palm oil from mixed sources may not be mixed under this system. The product can be traced back to the plantation.
- Segregated: similar to Identity Preserved but palm oil from several sustainable production facilities may be blended. The product can also be traced back to the plantation.
- Mass Balance: sustainable and conventional product may be mixed up to a regulated ratio. This is a way of certifying products that contain both certified and uncertified palm oil (with the addition “blended”).
- Book & Claim: sustainable palm oil (the physical product) and the sustainability certificates are processed separately. The supply chain is not traced. The end users can acquire certificates for their required quantities of sustainable palm oil. In this way it is possible to ensure that a corresponding quantity of certified palm oil was produced for the palm oil used in an end product.
We prefer to source palm oil from suppliers who do not just meet the RSPO standards but who also satisfy the requirements of RSPO Next. Important criteria are, in particular:
- A ban on palm oil cultivation on peatland
- A ban on pesticide agents which are considered to be especially harmful to humans, animals and the environment by the Stockholm Convention, the Rotterdam Convention, the Pesticide Action Network Dirty Dozen (incl. paraquat), and the World Health Organization (WHO 1a and 1b)
- Upgraded fire prevention measures in the palm oil plantations
- Disclosure of and continuing reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
- Capacity building for small producers
- No land-related conflict with the indigenous population
A raw material with a range of benefits
Palm oil and fat are valuable to us for three reasons:
- First, they are highly suitable for a wide range of food and non-food products.
- Second, for health reasons we do not use any hardened fats and refrain from using animal fats out of consideration for vegetarians.
- Third, oil palms are extremely productive, which has a positive impact on price and space requirements.