Certified sustainable palm sales growing after one year

By Susanne Retka Schill | October 14, 2009
Posted October 30, 2009

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil announced that more than 250,000 metric tons of RSPO-certified palm oil, or corresponding certificates, have been purchased since becoming available late last year. Almost half was purchased in the last two months. The organization released the first year results a few days before opening its sixth general assembly which will convene Nov. 4 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

"Six years after the foundation of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, we are witnessing the first stages of a viable market for sustainable palm oil," said Jan Kees Vis, RSPO president. "Now is a great time for more producers and users of palm oil to join the endeavor, so that one day all palm oil will be produced in a socially and environmentally sustainable way."

The quarter million sales accounts for 22 percent of the total certified production of 1.1 million metric tons from plantations in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea over the past year. After a slow start, product manufacturers and retail companies began purchasing sustainable palm oil this past summer, the RSPO said, paying a premium for the certified sustainable product. By September and October, the market uptake of sustainable supplies rose to about 50 percent.

The rise in sales of sustainable palm oil coincides with a growing number of companies publicly pledging to fully switch to sustainable palm oil within a certain time frame (many choose 2015), as all RSPO members are required to do. Worldwide, an estimated 40 million tons of palm oil is produced annually. About 4 percent of global production capacity has so far been RSPO-certified.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is a multi-stakeholder association created in 2003 by seven organizations and companies aiming towards sustainable production of palm oil. The roundtable includes palm growers, processors, traders, retailers, investors and leading nongovernmental organizations such as WWF and Oxfam International. The RSPO now has more than 400 members.
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