Palm oil field

France and Germany join Belgium, UK and the Netherlands in a commitment to source only sustainable palm oil.

The announcements came at the European Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) summit held in Berlin earlier this week. The commitments by France and Germany unite all national manufacturers, processors and handlers of palm oil under a pledge to use certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) by a target date of 2015, similar to the timelines of other EU countries committed to CSPO.

According to Food Navigator, Daniel May, project director for Germany’s Initiative said of the plan, “Our goal is to significantly increase the amount of sustainable palm oil in the German, Austrian and Swiss markets move to 100% sustainable as soon as possible.”

France’s head of the French Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil, Guillaume Reveilhac said that even though companies in the country may already have RSPO certification, knowledge is still quite low, and there are concerns over the health of palm oil that need addressed as well. “Palm oil is already a substitute to animal fat and hydrogenated oils. In the past ten years, the industry has already made tremendous achievements and it is important to communicate that to consumers. Now it is absolutely time to get sustainability issues on board.”

According to the RSPO, palm oil production is a leading cause of deforestation throughout Indonesia and Malaysia. The high-yielding crop is extremely efficient, which makes it popular for use in foods including margarine, chocolate and ice cream. It’s also used in the production of soaps, cosmetics, and fuel for cars and power plants. Approximately 4.5 million people throughout Indonesia and Malaysia make a living in the palm oil industry.

Sustainable palm oil follows eight principles and 39 practical criteria defined by the RSPO and in place since 2008 to help create a more sustainable palm oil industry.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: World Resources