Has company performance improved since WWF’s 2009 Scorecard?

Whereas the 2009 edition of the WWF Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard included only 59 companies, in 2011 WWF decided to expand the number of companies assessed and to reduce the number of questions asked.
 
There are, however, a set of questions that are common to both versions of the Scorecard, providing an opportunity to draw some conclusions about how companies included in both have progressed in the intervening years.

What we can compare

The common questions cover whether a company is a member of the RSPO and whether it has submitted its latest RSPO annual report. Both Scorecards also ask the same questions about whether a company has a commitment to sustainable palm oil, and specifically whether it has made a public commitment to use only RSPO-certified palm oil by 2015 or earlier.

Finally there are three common questions about whether a company discloses the total volume of palm oil it uses, whether it currently uses any RSPO-certified palm oil at all, and if so whether it publishes how much.

In total, these questions add up to six out of the total nine points available to companies in the 2011 Scorecard. Fifty of the companies in the 2009 Scorecard have also been included in the 2011 version.

So on the basis of RSPO membership, and on commitment to, and use of, RSPO-certified palm oil, how have the companies progressed since 2009?

The figure on the right  (click to expand) shows the improvement in performance of all the companies that were in both the 2009 and 2011 Scorecards.

Some companies consolidating their top score

Companies such as L’Oréal and Unilever, that performed well in 2009, have maintained their top position and overall, the top 10 performers in 2009 are still among the top performers in 2011.

The graph also shows that several companies that were just short of being the best performers in 2009 have used the intervening two years to consolidate their earlier efforts toward palm oil sustainability.

They have continued to be active members of the RSPO, started to use RSPO-certified palm oil, and are disclosing the volumes they use—a signal that they are taking seriously their responsibility within the market for transparency. These include companies such as Carrefour, Devineau Bougies la Française, Henkel, Premier Foods, Royal Ahold, Tesco and United Biscuits.

Other companies have made a turn-around

Notably, a group of companies, including the Boots Group, Iglo (Birds Eye), Nestlé, Waitrose and Warburtons, generally under-performed in the 2009 Scorecard, even though some were taking early action (including, in some cases, commitments to RSPO-certified palm oil that came too close to the publication of the 2009 Scorecard to be reflected in the scores). These companies have made a substantial turn-around and have earned relatively better scores in the 2011 Scorecard.

The 2011 Scorecard also shows that several companies that scored very poorly in 2009 (including many that got no points) have started to act responsibly. Cases in point include Brioche Pasquier Cerqueux and Casino in France.

Also, Associated British Foods in the UK, which has built on early good performance among its subsidiaries like Allied Bakeries and the Jordans and Ryvita Company, has gone on to make group-wide commitments to the responsible sourcing of palm oil.

Progress in the marketplace

Overall, the two consecutive Scorecards show progress in the marketplace for sustainable palm oil. It is clear that taking action on sustainable palm oil has become more mainstream in the last few years, and it is easier to take action now than it was in 2009.
 / ©: WWF
Click here to expand the bar chart showing differences in company scores between WWF's 2009 and 2011 Palm Oil Buyers' Scorecard.
© WWF

In 2010, WWF-Australia published the Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard - Australia. Three of the Australian companies included in the 2010 Scorecard— Goodman Fielder, Coles Supermarkets and Woolworths—are also included in the 2011 version. All three of these Australian brands have shown progress in commitments and actions on sustainable palm oil, although plenty of action is still needed to reach the 2015 targets they have committed to.

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