Roundtable unveils ‘sustainable palm oil’ trademark

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) today unveiled a trademark that will enable consumers to easily distinguish products containing palm ingredients that are sourced following Roundtable rules.

Over the next few years, the new symbol could demonstrate the use of certified sustainable palm ingredients in thousands of consumer products worldwide.

Product manufacturers and retail companies will be able to apply the new logo to their packaging starting early 2011.

“The RSPO trademark will reassure consumers that products they buy contribute to sustainable cultivation of palm oil and other palm products,” said Jan Kees Vis, the RSPO’s President.

“RSPO certification and this trademark mean that palm cultivation does not contribute to the sustained destruction of valuable tropical forests or damage the interests of people in the regions where the palms are grown,” Mr. Vis added.

The new trademark will encourage more companies to commit to using only certified sustainable palm oil. With the supply of certified oil steadily growing, many companies have already pledged to make the switch over the course of the next five years.

The trademark was unveiled at the annual Roundtable meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil, held in Jakarta, Indonesia. At that meeting, more than 750 representatives of companies and NGOs worldwide are discussing ways to ultimately make all the world’s palm oil production sustainable.

Half of packed supermarket products

Oil palms have become the world’s primary suppliers of vegetable oil, thanks in part to their exceptionally high yields per hectare. Oil palms grow in tropical regions only, at present mostly in Southeast Asia. It is estimated that about half of packed products in today’s supermarkets, including margarines, detergents, cosmetics and candles, contain palm ingredients, often in small quantities.

Growing palm cultivation has caused loss of primary tropical forests and other high-conservation-value areas. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was formed to generate a supply of palm oil that did not violate social and environmental standards. A multi-stakeholder organization, the RSPO brings together close to 400 palm growers, palm oil processors and traders, retailers, investors and leading NGOs such as WWF and Oxfam International.

The RSPO sets production standards and oversees certification systems that guard the entire supply chain of sustainable palm products. Before being certified, companies are inspected by third-party auditors. Marketing rules ensure that companies accurately inform consumers on their production or use of sustainable palm oil.

Since August 2008, more than 3 million tonnes of certified sustainable palm oil have been produced by certified growers, and the supply is growing rapidly. Uptake by the market has grown as well: more than 60% of certified sustainable palm oil produced in the first 10 months of 2010 was purchased as such.

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