Walmart faces “significant challenges” as it moves towards its target of using sustainable palm oil across all own-label products by 2015, according to Asda’s head of corporate sustainability Julian Walker-Palin.
Walker-Palin, who runs Walmart’s global palm oil project, said there were a number of barriers that could prevent the retailer from hitting its target within three years.
These include “very technical” paperwork, which makes it hard for Walmart to identify the documentation required for suppliers to prove they are using CSPO, as well as droughts in many of the countries Walmart operates in.
In May, Walker-Palin tried to organise an industry-wide meeting to discuss the issues. But he was advised by lawyers that Walmart could not host the meeting because of competition concerns.
The WWF, the Consumer Goods Forum and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil stepped in to host the meeting, which took place in Washington DC on 15 June and was attended by more than 80% of the global palm oil processing industry and major brands and retailers including Walmart, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble and Ahold.
Returning from the US this week, Walker-Palin said that the meeting had been “one of the most key palm oil meetings yet.” He cited the fact that it had led to the US government announcing at the Rio +20 Earth Summit a fortnight later that it would work with the Consumer Goods Forum on palm oil issues.