Sir: I am writing in response to the article ‘Retailer rivalry stalls palm oil progress’ (The Grocer, 16 March).
While I agree competition might prevent the UK food industry from committing to sustainable palm oil, I do not see this as a challenge to retail alone. The decision to use sustainable palm oil is the responsibility of the whole supply chain, including palm oil processors, traders, and food manufacturers.
The RSPO came to life in 2004 to promote the production and use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). Today we have 12 retail members based in the UK, including major chains. If one looks at the industry statements on sustainable palm oil, published by Defra in October 2012, the retailers’ is one of the most ambitious.
And yet this is not enough. We need all players in the supply chain fully on board. Palm oil is traded on commodity markets. To switch to CSPO, markets will need some much stronger signals, with greater collaboration across the chain to match CSPO supply and demand. We need also a concrete roadmap to move to 100% certified sustainable palm oil.
It’s no secret that only 52% of RSPO-certified palm oil is taken up by the market. How long can we keep growers committed to evolving the sustainability agenda if demand does not increase?
Darrel Webber, secretary general, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)