So what's the big deal about palm oil anyway?

As you will know if you have read our Green is Normal study our customers care about halting deforestation. Palm oil production has been linked by many environmental NGOs as a key contributor to deforestation. Even if you don’t know where palm oil is used there is a high chance that you have used or eaten it today.

Palm oil is used from bakery to pies to margarine to detergents, and many more. Even your lunchtime sandwich will contain it. In fact one of the reasons it’s used so much is that its one of the most versatile vegetable oils around. It’s also one of the most efficient oil crops too which means you get more oil for less land. This is a good thing as less land means less pressure on deforesting for new growth.

Asda and Walmart take halting deforestation very seriously in palm oil production which is why we are a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. We have a target to only use sustainably sourced palm oil in our private brand products anywhere in the world by the end of 2015.

For the past year I have been managing this project on behalf of Walmart’s global business and so for the last week was in Borneo to attend the RT9 – this is the one time every year where all the growers, refiners, producers and retailers come together to help push the agenda of sustainable palm oil.

Whilst I was out there, WWF launched their Palm Oil Scorecard – a table showing the efforts that companies are taking to ensure their palm oil does not lead to deforestation. I was delighted to see that Asda are at the very top of the table – first place – for the efforts that we are taking.

This industry leading position is a direct reflection of our work to ensure that we take our customers’ concerns seriously about halting deforestation linked to palm oil.

Whilst in Borneo I also visited two palm oil plantations and refineries, one run by IOI and one run by United Plantations, and I’ll blog soon with my pictures and what I learnt.

Posted by Julian on 30 November 2011
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