Sustainable palm oil

Worldwide demand for palm oil is growing. Around 80 percent of the palm oil required originates from Indonesia and Malaysia. However, the cultivation of this raw material presents issues, as it takes up large areas of land and is displacing rain forests.

Consequently, for our own label brands, we rely on sustainably produced palm oil that can be traced back to its origin and, since 2014, we have been a member of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This association promotes palm oil that is produced under socially equitable and environmentally friendly conditions. Specifically, this means that, since 2005, no further rainforests have been felled for palm oil plantations, laws have been complied with, and working conditions have been made fair and safe.

What have we achieved?

We need around 2,200 tonnes of palm oil each year for our own label food brands. 94.2 percent of this is already sourced from sustainable cultivation (as of 2016). The origin of the palm oil is traceable and it corresponds to the RSPO Identity Preserved, RSPO Segregated or Bio Suisse standards. We have set ourselves the target of using 100 percent sustainably grown palm oil in our own label brand food products by the end of 2017.

We are also taking action in the non-food segment: As early as 2013, for instance, we switched a palm oil raw ingredient in the detergents of our subsidiary Swiss Steinfels to the RSPO Mass Balance standard – the first retailer anywhere in the world to do so. By 2020, we would like 80 percent of the palm oil raw ingredients in our own label non-food products to be certified at least to 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. This ensures that the corresponding quantity of certified palm oil was produced for the palm oil used in an end product.

Additional requirements

We give preference to palm oil from suppliers who, in addition to the RSPO standards, fulfil the requirements of POIG (Palm Oil Innovation Group) or RSPO Next. Some important additional criteria for us are:·         

  • Ban on cultivation on peat soils
  • Ban on pesticide ingredients which, pursuant to the Stockholm Convention, the Rotterdam Convention, the Pesticide Action Network Dirty Dozen (incl. paraquat) and the World Health Organization (WHO 1a and 1b) are particularly hazardous to human and animal health and the environment.
  • More rigorous fire prevention at palm oil plantations
  • Disclosure and continual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Capacity building for small-scale producers
  • No land conflicts with the indigenous population
    Palm oil plantation in Malaysia
    Palm oil plantation in Malaysia
    Palm oil plantation in Malaysia
    Palm oil plantation in Malaysia
    Palm oil plantation in Malaysia
    Palm oil plantation in Malaysia
    Palm oil plantation in Malaysia
    Palm oil plantation in Malaysia

A raw material with multiple uses

There are three reasons why palm oil and fat is highly relevant to us:

  • Firstly, it has a good consistency, is heat-stable and is thus very suitable for numerous foods and non-food products.
  • Secondly, it does not quickly become rancid. This increases the shelf life of foods and reduces food waste.
  • Thirdly, oil palms are very efficient and require five times less space than rapeseed and eight times less than soya to produce the same yield of oil.

Guidelines on Sustainable Palm Oil

Now and in future: 14 critical raw materials

Principles and topics