Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Palm Oil Action Australia | March 1, 2021

Scroll to top


Joanna Blythman on palm oil: the industry responds

  • On July 14, 2017

Joanna Blythman on palm oil: the industry responds
2 mins read

In her latest column for The Grocer, Joanna Blythman argues palm oil is “the dirtiest ingredient on our shelves”. Here’s how leading industry bodies have responded to her claims.
Peter Andrews, policy adviser on sustainability, says: ”Joanna Blythman’s comments on palm oil give a misleading impression on the significant advances made to improve the production of palm oil. Palm oil is an extremely efficient crop, producing between four to ten times more oil than other crops on a similar amount of land, and its production supports the livelihoods of millions of people.
 UK retailers are actively engaged in efforts to improve the practices for producing palm oil and we know notable progress has already been made. Leading BRC members have achieved an ambitious voluntary target to source 100 per cent certified sustainable palm oil by the end of 2015. However, significant challenges remain in resolving the systemic issues associated with palm oil and this requires a wider commitment from all producers and governments in producing countries. UK retailers are committed to working with our supplying partners to help address these challenges and we support the role of the RSPO as the key platform for all stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain to do this. It is vital to continue to support those bodies actually working to improve palm oil production, as without their efforts there is little incentive for change.”
“Sensationalist calls to boycott palm oil are not the answer. Oil palm is the most efficient oil crop per hectare. As global demand for vegetable oils grows, switching to other crops will result in more forests being converted not less. A boycott would also be a disaster for the millions of smallholders producing some 40% of all oil palm worldwide, depriving them of their livelihoods.
Sustainable palm oil production is possible and RSPO criteria are being met by growers in certified plantations. We acknowledge the criticisms raised and are working to improve the monitoring and enforcement as well as the specific issues raised by Amnesty.
Environmental organisations, including UNEP, WWF and Greenpeace, do not support a boycott. Nor is Amnesty International calling on consumers to stop purchasing palm oil to solve the labour and human rights violations in the industry. We take these calls for a more sustainable palm oil as our renewed commitment to make certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) the norm.
Effective responses are needed and CSPO must be part of the solution. On that, leading NGOs and businesses agree. Businesses across Europe have committed to a target of 100% CSPO in Europe by 2020. This has won the support of Governments, including the UK consumers can and should play a role in supporting the many brands living up to their commitments to source sustainable palm oil.”
Emma Keller, agriculture commodities manager at WWF-UK, says: “WWF recognises the scale of the threat to the natural world posed by unsustainable palm oil expansion and it is critically important that the industry comes together to take meaningful action. However, boycotting Palm Oil is not the answer. Palm oil yields more oil per land area than other equivalent oil crops and so moving away from it will lead to more forest loss and greater pressure on the valuable habitats we need to protect. It would also destroy the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers that depend on its production.
”We need to see the industry make public commitments to source 100% RSPO certified sustainable palm oil and, more importantly, to start buying RSPO certified palm oil immediately. The RSPO is the only credible, international, independent and multi-stakeholder platform with the capacity to deliver true market change on a global scale. However, no certification scheme on its own can transform the global palm oil market and we have to look to governments to take action too. The scale of the challenge facing the palm oil industry is massive so we need to avoid confusing messages and instead encourage urgent action by companies, consumers and governments in order to create and adequately enforce laws that support legal and sustainable palm oil production that protects nature and people.”