Palm Oil Investigations

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Brand Palm Oil statements

Learning to read between the lines of company Palm Oil statements

Here are a few common lines that are used in company statements regarding their use of Palm Oil. Here we explain how to read between the lines and understand exactly what it is a company is saying. When you receive a statement from a company it is best to ask further questions to clarify what they are telling you.   

In many cases these statements are worded to sway the consumer into believing the brand is sourcing certified Palm Oil, some are, although the majority are not.

Most brands use the name of the WWF in their palm oil statements.  This is because the WWF form part of the RSPO, it does not mean that the brand are working with the WWF as we have seen noted in many statements.

“We use minimal palm oil ingredients in our products"

Most companies state their minimal use; combine all these companies together and you begin to see the bigger picture of this issue.

Ask the company what they consider to be minimal use.  Many will give a percentage of worldwide usage. This way it looks like a tiny amount,. For example, one company stated, "only a small amount (less than 0.05%) of the total 40 million metric tonnes of palm oil produced annually." However, we calculated this to be around 20 thousand metric ton, so ask how many tons they use per annum.

We don't use Palm Oil, we only use derivatives

We have been astounded at the number of companies and brands that state they don't use Palm Oil when the ingredients are clearly derivatives of Palm Oil.  We have come across company statements that deny any use of Palm Oil in their products, however when we question them further they then state they do use the derivatives but not the oil.  This is extremely confusing for the consumer.  It must be understood that a derivative of Palm Oil IS Palm Oil usage.

Always ask the company if they use Palm Oil or Derivatives of Palm Oil.  

We are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) 

or We purchase from members of the RSPO.

It must be noted that even though a company is a member of the RSPO it does not necessarily mean that they are purchasing certified sustainable palm oil. 

It means they have made a commitment to EVENTUALLY purchase sustainable palm oil, in most cases that commitment is to be in place by 2015.

If a brand are stating the palm oil used in their products is sustainable and do not mention CERTIFIED.  That normally means they are purchasing what is called GreenPalm certificates to offset their usage.  GreenPalm SUPPORTS the production of sustainable palm oil, BUT the physical palm oil used in the product is not certified.  Don't be fooled into thinking the palm oil is certified CSPO (Certified Sustainable Palm Oil).

Ask how much of the palm oil they source is Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, whether that is Greenpalm, Mass Balance, Segregated or Identity Preserved. Ask them when they intend to source 100% segregated CSPO. They will usually give the date of 2015 , in which case you might want to ask them what prevents them from shifting to it sooner.

“We purchase our Palm Oil from suppliers who are RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified which guarantees our use of Palm Oil is sustainable.

While suppliers support RSPO, once palm oil is harvested, both sustainable and non-sustainable palm oils are mixed together, so no company can really guarantee that their Palm Oil is completely sustainable. 

Manufacturers also purchase a small percentage of sustainable that is mixed with unsustainable and then call it sustainable.  If it is segregated, it is not mixed. Also suppliers (traders) are not certified, only mills and growers are.

Ask the company what percentage of CSPO (Certified Sustainable Palm Oil) they are purchasing.

“We use 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil”

Sometimes you will see a product displaying the official RSPO certification logo. 

It is not compulsory for a company to use the RSPO certification logo. 

It is an expectation that if a company is using CSPO and making this statement, they would not use an unofficial logo. 

If it is a different logo, then it is likely that they are making a claim that doesn’t really mean RSPO certified. 

The official RSPO logo can only be legally used if a product does in fact contain certified oil.  Sometimes brands will also make false claims regarding using certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO).

If the product is not displaying the official logo, ask the company why it is not displaying the official RSPO certification logo?

“We currently source from Peninsular Malaysia only, from land which has been used to produce palm oil or other agriculture crops for decades.”

It seems that the majority of Australian manufacturers state this in their statements, some do source from Peninsular Malaysia yet many do not and seems to be a way to sway the consumer to make them think their Palm Oil has not contributed to deforestation.

While it is true that MOST of the production area in Peninsular Malaysia is land that has been used for agriculture for decades, deforestation can still occur in this region. It is possible they pitch this as a fail safe statement because no Orangutans live on Peninsular Malaysia for the last 10,000 years or so. Although companies may be sourcing from Peninsular Malaysia they neglect to mention where else!

We have not found a company thus far that has admitted to their Palm Oil coming from Indonesia and on further investigation that is in fact the case.

Ask the company the origin of their Palm Oil and ask them who their supplier is. Once you have this information you can ask us to check the supplier and plantation to ensure they are in fact from Peninsular Malaysia.

We purchase GreenPalm which ensures our Palm Oil is sustainable !!!

Not the case. It must be understood that there are different supply chains of Palm Oil. Identity Preserved (Traceable to the source CSPO). Segregated (certified CSPO). Mass Balance (a mix of CSPO with unsustainable). Book and Claim (eg: GreenPalm). We ask you to understand GreenPalm by reading About GreenPalm under the About Palm Oil tab here on our website.

GreenPalm (Book and Claim) is NOT certified sustainable palm oil.

Companies that use GreenPalm certificates (Book & Claim) to purchase their Palm Oil supply, are NOT allowed to state that their physical Palm Oil is certified, not to a customer, not in email, not on their website, product packaging, Palm Oil statement or anywhere else. 

GreenPalm certificates are purchased by brands to offset their usage.  GreenPalm supports the production of sustainable palm oil, yet the physical oil is not certified sustainable.