Sustainable palm cooking oil goes on sale to Indonesian consumers
WWF has welcomed the introduction this week by global retailing giant Carrefour of “Ecoplanet Cooking Oil”, as it is the first consumer product to be labeled with the trademark of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Indonesia.
Indonesia is the world’s second largest consumer of palm oil after India, with consumption of 7.2 million tonnes annually, with cooking oil accounting for around 80% of the total. Indonesia overtook Malaysia as the world’s largest palm oil producer in 2007, and produced over 25 million tonnes in 2011.
Concern that rocketing palm oil plantation establishment was pushing up deforestation rates, threatening tiger, elephant and orangutan habitat, displacing forest communities and contributing to massive greenhouse gas emissions through the exploitation of peat soils in the region led WWF and other partners to form the RSPO in 2005. A multi-stakeholder initiative devoted to transforming the palm oil business to one that is sustainable, the RSPO has developed a set of strict environmental and social standards that ensure that palm oil can be produced without harming people or the planet.
Sustainable Palm Oil Production
RSPO certified palm oil has made major inroads into European and American markets, but it is only now that it is available directly to Indonesia’s over 250 million consumers. The oil will be available in 84 Carrefour stores covering Java, Bali, Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi.
“With palm oil playing such a central role to both the economy of Indonesia and also the daily lives of its people, it is doubly exciting that cooking oil produced according to internationally recognized sustainability standards is now available here,” said Irwan Gunawan, WWF Indonesia’s Deputy Director of Market Transformation. “Now Indonesian consumers are empowered to make a daily choice at the market that contributes to sustainable development in their own country.”
All of the EcoPlanet oil has been produced on a plantation certified according to RSPO guidelines by the Musim Mas company in Riau, Sumatra. In order to achieve its certificate, the company demonstrated that it had adhered to RSPO defined standards for responsible plantation management, which require, for example, that high conservation value areas are mapped and managed, use of pesticides is reduced, and smallholders, workers and communities are respected. Not only has the fruit that bears the palm oil been grown in a sustainable way, but all the companies along the palm oil supply chain have also been certified, guaranteeing that the sustainable oil has not been mixed with conventional oil along the journey from plantation to supermarket shelf.
This product launch by Carrefour is one step in a global effort. The retail giant made a global commitment to source 100% RSPO oil by 2015, and since 2010 has been buying certificates that support the growth of sustainable palm oil to cover all the products it sells in France. “With the launch of this product, Carrefour is ultimately showcasing its commitment to its consumers who are increasingly becoming more discerning and ethical in their choices, “ said Adji Srihandoyo, Corporate Affairs Director, PT Carrefour Indonesia. “The product is good for the future of palm oil industry, good for the future of Indonesia, and good for the people as it is offered at an affordable price.”
Carrefour’s commitment to the development of sustainable palm oil in Indonesia extends to its support of smallholders, which produce approximately 40% of the country’s output of palm oil. The Carrefour
Foundation recently launched a project in Riau, Sumatra that aims to help 250 small farmers to become the first RSPO certified smallholder collective.
WWF-Indonesia, which has been committed to transforming the palm oil industry in Indonesia for over a decade, hopes this sends an encouraging signal to big producers and smallholders alike.
“WWF hopes this commitment can inspire other manufacturers and retailers in Indonesia to commit to sustainable palm oil,” said Gunawan. “It also sends a powerful signal to the country’s palm oil growers that there is a burgeoning market for sustainable palm oil in Indonesia as well as abroad.”