How did the retailers perform?
Medium-sized users, such as Co-op Switzerland, Co-operative Group UK, ICA, Marks & Spencer, Migros, Royal Ahold and Waitrose, have also performed well in their size class. Among the small palm oil volume retailers, Axfood, The Body Shop and the Boots Group are ahead of the curve.
There is a second group of retailers that are at the start of their journey and that WWF expects to do better in future Scorecards. These include Casino, Coles Supermarkets, Delhaize Group, E.Leclerc, Kesko Food, Metcash Trading, REWE Group, the SOK Group and Woolworths.
Unfortunately there is still a large number of companies that are not yet performing as well as they should, and certainly not as well as the Scorecard’s leading companies show is possible.
RSPO membershipDisappointingly, 12 out of the 44 retailers scored have still not joined the RSPO, a very basic first step in taking responsibility for the palm oil they use.
CommitmentsMore encouragingly, 26 retailers have made public commitments to use only certified sustainable palm oil by 2015 and in some cases earlier.
That still leaves 8 making only vague commitments and 10 making none at all. Given that the use of palm oil is widespread, as is understanding about the challenges it poses to sustainability, WWF expected much greater action on the issue from retailers overall.
What do these commitments cover?Between them, the retailers included in the Scorecard reported that they use at least 123,000 tonnes of palm oil a year. In almost all cases, this figure covers only their own brands, and not the many other brands offered on their shelves.
WWF believes that it is time that retailers begin to take responsibility for all the products they sell. Only then can they claim that they are doing everything they can to ensure that their stores are free of “tainted” palm oil.
Transparency22 retailers scored told us the total volume of palm oil they use (in their own brands). A further 7 were willing to tell us what size range they were in, and we have published these figures. 15 were unwilling to tell us anything about the volume of palm oil they use.
Unless there is greater transparency, there is a risk that oil palm growers will be unwilling to commit to certification, as they simply cannot accurately gauge future demand for certified sustainable palm oil.
This is why WWF expects far more openness in this industry.
Use of certified sustainable palm oilIt is encouraging that 33 retailers scored have reported that they are buying Book and Claim certificates and/or are using at least some certified sustainable palm oil already.
However, only 11 companies are meeting their palm oil needs with 75% of certified sustainable palm oil. On average, the retailers scored are covering 53% of their total palm oil use. This is a good start, but given the relatively small volume and the range of supply chain options available, this remains a disappointing result.
Why are retailers using so little certified palm oil?Retailers face a complex job in achieving sustainability when it comes to palm oil. Because the commodity is used in so many processed foods and other goods, it can be difficult for large retailers in particular to make the switch to traceable sustainable palm oil.
However, the Book and Claim system, which consists of buying certificates to cover the volume of palm oil used, is a way for retailers to move quickly toward 100% RSPO-certified palm oil before traceable supply chains are in place.
With the Book and Claim system readily available to all companies, there is really no excuse for the disparity between top scorers and other retailers in the Scorecard.
What supply chains options are the retailers using?Most of the 33 retailers that told us they are using certified palm oil are at least starting to use traceable supply chains, with just 7 relying only on buying Book and Claim certificates to cover the volumes they use.
WWF welcomes the use of traceable supply chains by these companies as an essential step on the journey to cleaning up the industry.
Is it time to move to fully traceable palm oil?Retailers are powerful actors in the food and personal care sectors. They need to start pushing manufacturers as hard as they can to take control of their supply chains, in order to eliminate tainted palm oil and to supply only certified sustainable palm oil.
This includes asking manufacturers that supply them to use 100% RSPO-certified palm oil in all their products, and specifically starting to demand treaceable sustainable palm oil.