Two companies, IKEA and REWE Group, achieved top scores; not only because they have reached 100% certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) already but also because they are setting policies that require suppliers to cut climate emissions from palm oil production. A further 21 companies scored 11 out of a possible 12 points, reflecting their progress toward 100% CSPO.
Disappointingly, there are still some retailers that have failed to take even the first step of joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The RSPO has existed for more than a decade, and has been promoted strongly by NGOs, the progressive parts of the industry and, in Europe at least, by governments and national initiatives.
Yet 12 of the 52 retailers and food service companies scored – more than one in five – have yet to join the RSPO. Burying their heads in the sand and hoping the problems facing palm oil will go away is a wholly inadequate response.
Commitments to use only sustainable palm oil
More than half of the 44 mainly European retailers we scored in 2011 were committed to using only CSPO by 2015 – but 18 had made either vague or no such promises.
In 2013, 36 of the 52 companies have commitments to be at 100% CSPO by 2015 or earlier. A further five (Groupe Lactalis, Aldi (Süd), Kesko Food, McDonald’s Corporation and Metro Group) have commitments later than 2015. But 11 have no commitments to use sustainable palm oil at all.
While this shows progress, it is still concerning that some companies do not yet seem to see the urgency of taking action on palm oil.
In 2011 WWF hoped for greater transparency about how much palm oil and CSPO companies were using in order to give growers supplying CSPO a better idea of the likely future demand.
In 2013, 40 out of 52 retailers have disclosed this (and a further two have told us that they don't yet calculate how much they use). One company declined to tell us or the RSPO how much they use - and a further nine did not reply to us at all.
It seems that at least those companies already taking action are responding to the need to give clear signals to palm oil producers about the likely scale of demand for CSPO.
Use of CSPO
In 2011 we were disappointed at how few retailers were making sure that the majority of the palm oil they used was from sustainable sources. We were particularly concerned that many were not even taking up the Book and Claim option to at least take the first step on the journey to sustainable palm oil.
Since only half of the CSPO available then was being bought, we concluded that there were absolutely no excuses for retailers not to buy or cover 100% of their use.
In the intervening two years, the availability of CSPO has expanded even further and the number of suppliers able to offer it has also increased.
In 2013, 39 out of 52 retailers are using CSPO and 21 are using or covering all of their palm oil use with CSPO. This is a sign that still too few companies are rising to the challenge.
Overall, 52% of the palm oil used by the retailers scored is covered by CSPO. Disappointingly, this is worse than the 53% we found in 2011 – although this is partly explained by the inclusion this time around of US-based companies, where awareness and action on palm oil is lower than in Europe.
Nevertheless, we are concerned that companies are not moving fast enough as a group to meet the 2015 deadline.
Will companies meet the 2015 deadline?
Most of the companies that have already made commitments to reach 100% CSPO by 2012 have done so.
Generally, those that have committed to get to 100% CSPO by 2015 also seem to be making good progress – but there are some notable exceptions like Metcash Trading, Sodexo, Wal-Mart and Woolworths. These companies will have to redouble efforts to hit their own targets.