Are buyers of palm oil doing enough?
This shows how taking action on palm oil has become much more mainstream compared to a few years ago, but it also highlights the distance some companies still need to go toward sustainable palm oil.
This Scorecard represents a snapshot in time of company performance, showing how well they are performing in relation to each other in 2011.
Most of the top performers still have a long journey ahead of them – they need to continue to increase purchases of sustainable palm oil and in most cases, move to traceable supply chains before the target date of 2015. Indeed, many companies have set a target year of 2015 for buying 100% certified sustainable palm oil.
Moreover, while a number of companies have achieved the top score, this does not mean they have reached the peak of sustainability with regards to palm oil.
In doing well, some companies have demonstrated that, regardless of size, it is possible to be a responsible member of the RSPO, to make strong public commitments to sustainable palm oil, to be transparent about how much palm oil they use and to lead the way on using RSPO-certified palm oil now.
Clearly, in order to shift the global market toward certified sustainable palm oil, India and China, and even Indonesia (also a very large consumer of the palm oil it grows), will need to increase their use of sustainable palm oil.
For Chinese and Indian buyers, sourcing RSPO-certified palm oil would be the best way to avoid the risk of being associated with “tainted” palm oil, while ensuring a sustainable supply of palm oil in their developing markets well into the future.
But both markets are very price sensitive, have traditionally low levels of consumer demand for sustainability and are heavily shaped by government policies. In these countries, market and consumer pressure alone are not enough.
Multinational companies—including several companies in the Scorecard (Carrefour, Nestlé and Unilever)—that have made global commitments to, and reported on their global use of, RSPO-certified palm oil have a part to play in introducing these commitments to Asia.
US companies, not scored here because of the relatively low levels of domestic consumption of palm oil, are also key to the long-term growth in sustainable palm oil because of the role they play in global markets (see US market profile).
Many companies have set a target year of 2015 for buying 100% certified sustainable palm oil, but WWF is particularly concerned that they do not seem to be taking the necessary steps to make sure that they can deliver on this goal.
There needs to be more action now; companies should set annual milestones toward their target to source 100% certified sustainable palm oil by 2015 and deliver on their commitments early, if possible.