Consumers are increasingly looking for eco-labels and ingredient lists to gauge the ethical impact of their shopping habits.
Mintel’s 2022 Global Consumer Trends recently reported that 61% of UK consumers believe that buying from ethical brands is a good way of helping to improve the world we live in.
With palm oil being in nearly half of the products sold in supermarkets, retailers need to be clear about what they are doing to ensure the ingredient is not having a negative environmental or social impact.
By transparently communicating sourcing practices, businesses can reassure consumers that their products are not associated with deforestation or human rights violations along the supply chain for key ingredients.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has been, and continues to be, the catalyst for ensuring a more sustainable palm oil supply chain.
One of the seven RSPO criteria for growers states that no primary forests, areas that contain significant concentrations of biodiversity (e.g. endangered species), fragile ecosystems, or areas that are fundamental to meeting the basic or traditional cultural needs of local communities can be cleared.
Other RSPO principles stipulate the fair treatment of workers according to local and international labour rights standards, and the need to inform and consult with local communities before the development of new plantations on their land.
A Life Cycle Assessment finds that RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) emits 35% fewer GHG emissions and is associated with a 20% lower impact on biodiversity, compared to non-certified palm oil.
A growing number of retailers have pledged to adopt sustainable palm oil-sourcing practices, which start with identifying where palm oil is present as an ingredient in private-label products, mapping any suppliers or co-packers, and checking whether they handle products that already contain RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil.
Retailers who are raising the bar are not only committing to sourcing 100% sustainable palm oil-based materials for their own brands, but are opting for a supply chain model that ensures that palm oil from certified sources is kept separate from ordinary palm oil, like the ‘RSPO Segregated’ supply chain model.
Labelling is the easiest way to inform consumers about the products that help the environment and improve the livelihoods of farmers.
Increasingly, brands are revising the packaging of their products to include the ‘RSPO Trademark’ logo, which is currently being used in 111 countries and territories.
It is a significant move to empower consumers who are willing to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle.
The result of these shared commitments is the substantial growth of sustainably grown palm oil, with an area of 4.54 million hectares across 21 countries, representing a 4% increase in 2020 from the previous year.