The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an international multi stakeholder initiative, has achieved yet another milestone with over six million metric tons of CSPO produced worldwide by RSPO-certified palm oil growers in less than four years since RSPO certification began. In 2011, supply of CSPO increased by 73% compared to the previous year (4.798.512 tons against 2.773.567 tons in 2010), while sales increased by 94%.

The RSPO said in April that a 20% growth rate was achieved within just half a year, in terms of both CSPO production area and CSPO annual production capacity, unparalleled for a sustainable commodity. There were 11 new palm oil mills certified in the first quarter of 2012, recording a total number of 146 mills certified to date amongst 30 producer organizations or growers primarily from Malaysia and Indonesia, and increasingly from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Latin America, and West Africa.

RSPO secretary general Darrel Webber commented that: “The market transformation towards sustainable palm oil is accelerating at a significant pace. The RSPO takes this opportunity to applaud our Indonesian grower members for their continuous drive towards sustainability as they have overtaken Malaysia and now lead the pack as the number one producer of CSPO both in terms of volume and production area.

“Interest from new members across geographies has been phenomenal – more than 100 new members joined the RSPO during the first quarter of this year, mostly from the European region and primarily from Germany and France, which we hope will continue to strengthen the demand for CSPO.”

At the RSPO III Latin American Conference held in Quito, Ecuador and organized by the National Association of Oil Palm Growers (ANCUPA) and the Ministry of Industry and Competitiveness (MIPRO) with support consultant Total Environmental Solutions (SAMBITO), leading companies came together and unanimously pledged their commitment towards social and environmental responsibility. The April conference was inaugurated by the Government of Ecuador.

The three-day meeting witnessed over 400 delegates from 12 countries in the region comprising main players in the palm oil sector in Latin America pledging to promote and adopt the implementation of international certification standards for sustainable palm oil set by the RSPO.

“The commitment of oil palm growers in Ecuador for RSPO certification will soon become a reality that assures the sustainable source of national palm oil. We are currently progressing with the National Interpretation of RSPO Principles and Criteria in Ecuador and expect this to complete soonest so that we can proceed to the next step in adopting the standards”, said Francisco Davila, president of National Association of Oil Palm Growers (ANCUPA). “In Ecuador, 80% of palm oil is grown in areas that have a long and productive agricultural use for over 100 years. The remaining 20% of crops are in other areas of new agricultural production and less than 1% has been detected that may be in protected areas. The palm oil sector is critical for the growth of our nation, generating nearly 2% of Ecuador’s GDP, 15% of agricultural GDP and supports over 170,000 jobs directly and indirectly.”

Darrel Webber, secretary general of the RSPO who was a speaker at the conference commented that: “Certified Sustainable Palm Oil is currently 11% of global production of crude palm oil, a sterling achievement by our members in the growers sector in just over three years since certification begun. So far, the annual production capacity of Latin America (Brazil and Colombia) is approximately 2.4% of the total 5,704,342 metric tons of CSPO. It is without a doubt that Latin America and its contribution towards sustainable palm oil will significantly catapult when Ecuador, as the second largest producer and leading exporter of palm oil in Latin America, gets on board as well.”

In the Netherlands, the Dutch Task Force on Sustainable Palm Oil report shows that 21% of all palm oil currently used in food products in the Netherlands is RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). In addition, the report also highlights a significant increase in the number of Dutch organizations that have joined RSPO during the past year, reinforcing the Dutch palm oil industry’s commitment to full sustainability by 2015.

In India, HUL (Hindustan Unilever) is one of the main players in the Indian market so far to procure certificates from GreenPalm’s Book and Claim system, aligned with its overall vision of Unilever, a long term committed member of the RSPO.

Commenting on this, Nitin Paranjpe, CEO and managing director, HUL, said, "There is a clear linkage between deforestation and climate change, therefore companies can play an important role by adopting sustainable practices. We are committed to work with like-minded companies and NGO's to influence the sourcing of CSPO into India. By 2015, Unilever internationally will buy 100% certified sustainable palm oil.

“This market is really catching up, the production has now reached six million tons, but demand is still around 50% of the production. It is not easy for big groups with several industrial plants in many countries to convert their procurement to a complete sustainable palm oil from one day to the next”, said Marcello Brito, Commercial & Sustainability director of leading Brazilian sustainable palm oil producer Agropalma S/A.

“There are several logistic procedures that must be done before and the most difficult part at this point is to segregate CSPO from the conventional one, as this means possible extra costs. Slowly the market is growing and our best expectation is to have a huge CSPO purchase increase after 2015; the organic certification can be an important addition for producers and buyers.”

Agropalma sees the market for organic cosmetics still being very small, at least in Brazil, while the food industry represents 99% of sales.
Mr. Brito said there is higher demand for sustainable palm oil in the European market, as sustainability became part of their agenda. “In the USA it is still a niche market, but with great potential. RSPO palm oil consumption has increased globally and is set to grow from 50 million tons a year currently to at least 77 million tons in 2050,” he said.
Agropalma celebrated its 100% RSPO certification last year in August and 16% of its production is also organic certified. The company has also achieved the Ecosocial certification by the IBD (Instituto Biodinamico) in Brazil.