Following the announcement of the EU’s ‘Green Deal’ in December 2022, a supply chain sustainability expert is imploring food retailers to prioritise third party verification when using responsibly sourced palm oil.
The new law sets out to fight global deforestation driven by EU production and consumption. It will ensure that certain goods placed on the EU market will no longer contribute to deforestation or forest degradation both in the EU and around the globe.
The text is yet to be formally adopted but when it is, companies will have 18 months to comply with the new rules. To do so, companies must conduct strict due diligence if they place palm oil and timber, as well as derived products, either on the EU market or export from it.
Jay Weldon, Business Development Manager at BM TRADA says, “The continued presence of deforestation in key supply chains is a huge concern and has raised the need to increase and improve policies and procedures. As such, the new EU legislation is a positive step in the right direction.
“Food and commodities supply chains are complex and span many countries so achieving the EU’s goal will require global collaboration. All stakeholders must work together to prioritise sustainable sourcing and production.”
Palm oil in particular has received negative publicity linked to unsustainable sourcing which has affected the biodiversity of countries where it is grown. Use of the product has increased rapidly in recent years, in part due to changes to the global oil supply chain. In 2022, two of the world’s largest exporters of sunflower oil ceased exports due to geopolitical conditions. As a result, many suppliers have switched from sunflower oil to palm oil.
“Where palm oil is used, having impartial third party certification in place to prove that a business is playing its part to use a sustainably sourced product is paramount, There is increasing worldwide concern that the food and goods we produce could damage both the environment and our society, and consumers are actively searching for solutions. Sustainable supply chains remain key and, with the future of the planet in our hands, greater transparency and credibility is crucial,” says Weldon.
He continues: “When you consider the changes to global vegetable oil supply chain, finding alternatives to palm oil is an unrealistic option. Instead, prioritising responsible sourcing is essential. This is where sustainable supply chain certification plays a key role. Having third party verification proves that a supply chain operates ethically and ensures traceability of products, ultimately showing customers, stakeholders and the broader public that products will stand up to scrutiny.”
BM TRADA defines a sustainable supply chain as one where, at every stage of the procurement cycle, the organisation, its products and services are evaluated in terms of economic, social and environmental impacts. Retailers can ensure they are sourcing from sustainable palm oil suppliers through robust auditing processes.
Weldon adds: “Sustainable palm oil sourcing must also be underpinned by consumer education. Specifically, there appears to be a knowledge gap when it comes to the role of The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), resulting in shoppers simply avoiding all products which include palm oil. As we’ve noted, this isn’t feasible in the long term due to supply changes. Instead, shoppers must look for goods with a visible RSPO logo so they can be confident that the products they purchase are not damaging the environment.”
For more information on BM TRADA’s sustainable supply chain services, please visit: www.bmtrada.com/certification-services/sustainable-supply-chain-certification