Positive steps towards sustainable palm oil

Encouraging progress towards sustainability in the palm oil sector made by transnational and Singaporean businesses.
Positive steps towards sustainable palm oil
BLOOM image/Getty Images
BLOOM image/Getty Images

In the last couple of months there has been encouraging progress towards sustainability in the palm oil sector. Transnational companies Unilever and Nestlé have started publishing detailed lists of their palm oil suppliers. PepsiCo has suspended ties with supplier Indo Agri over labour rights and sustainability concerns. Locally, Singaporean food and beverages (F&B) companies such as Old Chang Kee, Tung Lok and Crystal Jade have switched to or have committed to using sustainable palm oil.

In a major push towards increasing transparency, consumer goods giants Unilever and Nestlé have published detailed lists of their direct and indirect palm oil suppliers. Traceability will help greatly in addressing deforestation, peat clearance and human rights violations. These companies hope that this will be the start of an industry wide push to greater supply chain transparency.

PepsiCo has suspended business ties with Indo Agri(one of Indonesia’s biggest palm oil producers) because of concerns over the company’s human rights and sustainability practices. Lays-branded snacks are produced by PepsiCo and IndoFood (parent company of Indo Agri).

In Singapore, outreach efforts of PM Haze and WWF combined with pressure from consumers has triggered positive responses from local eateries and F& B companies. Popular businesses such as Old Chang Kee, Crystal Jade, F& N and eateries such as Vegan Burg and Nom Vnom have switched or have committed to using sustainable palm oil.

PM Haze is very proud of the efforts of our student volunteers Gauri and Regina, because it took great courage and dedication from the students to voice out their concern. Their online petition in October 2017 to Old Chang Kee and Polar Puffs drew 8000 signatures. Polar Puffs released a statement that they use very little vegetable oil in their products and it is sourced sustainably. Old Chang Kee switched to RSPO certified cooking oil recently in their email to the students.

We are also very encouraged by the wide support from the public who stood behind the girls and signed their petition. Many even commented on OCK’s Facebook and urged OCK to be a responsible company and switch to sustainable palm oil. We think this is what people can do to protect our planet, to voice out and demand for more sustainable practices from their beloved brands. We hope to see more activism from people to create the positive change we want.

Ten F& B companies including Tung Lok , Crystal Jade, F& N and Commonwealth Capital have committed to switching to sustainable palm oil . Their portfolio includes brands such as Pasta Mania and Baker & Cook. They recently joined the South East Asia Alliance for Sustainable Palm oil (SASPO). SASPO is the first private sector led initiative in the region to facilitate adoption of sustainable palm oil.

It is encouraging to see the bigger players in our local F&B industry taking steps to source sustainable palm oil. We hope the rest of the food companies and eateries will join these progressive companies to play their part in addressing the haze issue.





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