Companies too slow to switch to deforestation-free palm oil: WWF scorecard report

Posted on 17 January 2020

Companies are falling short when it comes to supporting sustainable palm oil production and tackling tropical deforestation, WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard reveals.
Gland/Brussels - These findings come as companies prepare to gather to set the agenda for a more sustainable world at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. According to the new assessment of global brands’ actions to reduce adverse impacts of unsustainable palm oil, not a single one of the 173 assessed companies attained the top score. 

When produced irresponsibly, palm oil - the world’s most traded and consumed vegetable oil - can have a devastating impact on forests, species, communities and the global climate.  Despite many long-standing commitments by brands and industry coalitions to eliminate the destruction of nature, including deforestation, from their palm oil supply chains, the scorecard shows that most still have a long way to go to turn these promises into reality. 

“These results show that voluntary agreements are clearly not sufficient to address global deforestation, with devastating effects on biodiversity loss and climate change. With EU consumption of palm oil, but also beef, soy, cocoa, maize, and other commodities, being a key driver of deforestation, decisive legislative action is needed in the EU to ensure that only deforestation-free products reach European consumers,” said Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, Senior Forests Policy Officer at the WWF European Policy Office. “In the past few months, the first steps have been taken to allow the development of  strong EU legislation, and this must now be pursued as a priority as part of the European Green Deal.”

Members of the industry platform Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) have committed to deforestation-free supply chains by 2020. However, the scorecard reveals that there is little progress in practice, with only 10 of 53 members scoring in the top 10% of the assessment. WWF expects all CGF members to urgently step up and take the lead on sustainable palm oil. 

The Scorecard also reveals that about 1/4 of assessed companies are investing in on-the-ground initiatives in areas at risk for unsustainable palm oil development, and nearly 1/4 of companies still have made no commitments at all on sustainable palm oil. The results show that support to producer countries to address the problems on the ground is needed. 

“2020 represents a tremendous opportunity for companies to join policy makers and consumers to commit to palm oil and other commodities placed on the EU market no longer harming nature or forests, and to secure a sustainable future for people and planet. WWF is calling on governments and companies to rise to this challenge by supporting a new EU law, and a broader New Deal for Nature and People,” concluded Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove.

For more information:
The Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard can be downloaded from
The complete performance profile on each company is shared on the Scorecard website, as well as detailed, filterable tables showing how companies perform in comparison with others in their sector. 

Carrie Svingen ( or +49 170 123 5101)
Angelika Pullen (, +32 473 947 966)

In this fifth edition of a decade-long series, the new WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard examines 173 major retailers, consumer goods manufacturers and food service companies from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.  Companies range from iconic brands such as Carrefour, L’Oreal, McDonald’s, Nestlé, Tesco, and Walmart among others.  As we enter 2020 and a new decade, this Scorecard has reset the bar for companies with the expectation that they take commensurate, accelerated action in response to the planet’s escalating environmental and climate challenges.  

Expanding on its previous Scorecards, WWF measured not only how companies performed on basic steps such as using 100% sustainable palm oil in their own supply chains, but also additional actions that prove a company is truly acting responsibly. This includes actions to protect and positively benefit smallholders, communities and biodiversity on the ground in the landscapes most at risk from irresponsible palm oil expansion. 

Even on the essential actions we expect companies to take, including sourcing 100% certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), the results are disappointing.  Overall, less than half of Scorecard companies source 100% CSPO.  While just over two-thirds of Scorecard companies have committed to source 100% CSPO by 2020, of those only around 60% have managed to achieve this goal. Meanwhile, only ¼ of all companies in the Scorecard have policies that require their suppliers to be deforestation-free. 

While Asian markets have previously lagged behind on sustainability, WWF has included Singaporean, Indonesian and Malaysian brands in this global edition of the Scorecard for the first time with the expectation that they start to close this sustainability gap.

Palm oil plantations, largely in low lying tropical areas in south east Asia but increasingly in Africa and Latin America, produce 65 percent of the world’s traded vegetable oil.  Palm oil is a key ingredient in many foods, cosmetics, soaps and detergents and has emerged as a significant biofuel stock. Overall demand for vegetable oil is expected to double by 2050 according to IUCN. 

The data in the Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard was supplied by assessed companies to either the  The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) or WWF and has been checked to the best of our abilities.   Meanwhile, the information on companies’ palm oil supply chains is based on self-declarations by the companies to the RSPO and could not be independently verified.  WWF encourages consumers, companies and investors to read, scrutinize and share the information on social media in order to help build a culture of transparency around corporate palm oil use.
Companies must switch to sustainable palm oil today.
© WWF-Malaysia / Mazidi Abd Ghani