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Six major brands join China Sustainable Palm Oil Alliance, taking lead in making sustainable palm oil the norm

Author: Nithin Coca, China Dialogue, Published on: 31 October 2019

“Can China shift to sustainable palm oil?”, 24 October 2019

… Over the past decade, campaigns on destructive palm oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia have raised consumer awareness and changed supply chains, at least those connected to western markets. Europe, which has been at the forefront, is looking to ban the use of unsustainable palm oil for biofuels, while several US brands have decided to either eliminate palm oil or use it only when certified as sustainable by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

But the positive changes have been more than negated by growth in demand for unsustainable palm oil from other markets. No country plays a larger role than China, the chief destination for Indonesian exports and among the top consumers of palm oil…

 “China’s attitude towards sustainable palm oil will have a significant impact on the global supply chain,” said Darrel Weber, CEO of RSPO. “We are at the critical point of protecting biodiversity, tackling climate change and deforestation and solving social problems.”

That’s why the RSPO, WWF China, Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) China, and others, launched the China Sustainable Palm Oil Alliance (CSPOA)... Six major brands are now members, including AAK, Cargill China, HSBC, L’Oréal China, Mars and MingFai Group.

“We saw the potential role of palm oil key stakeholders in China to take the lead in making sustainable palm oil a norm,” said Fei Li, CDP China’s Forests Program Manager.

Member brands of CSPOA have committed to sourcing sustainable palm oil and hope their stance encourages other buyers ofin  imported palm oil to implement best practices too. Their initial goal is to make sure that 10% of all palm oil imports are certified as sustainably sourced.

“We and other members made commitments to promote the adoption of sustainable palm oil in the Chinese markets,” said Charlene Lin, sustainable sourcing manager at Mars Wrigley China. “Hopefully as more and more industry players join the CSPOA, there will be more uptake and that will drive an industry transformation.”

At the moment, China is largely dependent on unsustainable palm oil imported from south-east Asia…

… advocates are calling for sustainable farming, following strict guidelines – like those set forth by the RSPO or the Palm Oil Innovation Group – that mandate best practices and prohibit the use of fire to clear primary forest for palm oil production…

… CSPOA has been working with bodies including the China Chain Business Association and the China Sustainable Consumption Roundtable, and plans to increase public outreach…

So far, the reaction of Indonesia and Malaysia to Europe’s move to limit imports of unsustainable palm oil is to lobby hard, and push to open up new markets. If China made similar demands and took action to eliminate imports of palm oil connected to deforestation, there would be less space left for uncertified producers…

Read the full post here

Related companies: AAK Cargill HSBC L'Oreal Mars