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Chinese retailers urged to expedite the adoption of sustainable palm oil standards

RSPO participated in the ‘New Consumption Forum: 2020 China Retail Private Brand Online Conference’ to urge Chinese retailers to help accelerate the adoption of sustainable palm oil standards in the country. The event, organised virtually by the China Chain Store and Franchise Association (CCFA) on 10 December 2020, attracted more than 5,000 participants, comprising representatives from leading supermarkets and other businesses.

Delivering a keynote address at the event titled The Palm Oil Supply Chain: Are Retailers at the Forefront of Sustainability?, RSPO’s China Representative, Teng Feifei, encouraged executives and the purchasing teams at retailers across China to actively adopt the RSPO standards for sustainable palm oil production, as this will help bring new competition to the development of their private brands.

According to Teng, the sustainable planting of oil palm holds huge significance for the protection of biodiversity in tropical rainforests. “People should face up to the environmental and social problems brought about by unsustainable palm oil production and seek solutions instead of passively sitting on the sidelines,” she added.

Teng also put forward a five-step roadmap to sustainable palm oil for Chinese private brand retailers, namely improving capacity and establishing training mechanisms, carrying out risk assessment and supply chain optimisation programmes, setting phased objectives and plans for implementation, holding periodic evaluations and assessments, and practising effective consumer communications. Additionally, Chinese retailers are urged to exert their huge influence and fulfil their responsibility to help put the industry on the road towards more sustainable global development.

Certain overseas markets have clearly proven that the active adoption of sustainable palm oil standards can help foster better business development. After more than 10 years of development, the standards for sustainable palm oil formulated by RSPO have become an important basis for the purchasing and marketing activities of internationally renowned retailers, including Target, Aldi, and Walmart, and helped them to improve their core competitiveness through more sustainable business models.

China is the second-largest consumer and third-largest importer of palm oil, and the Chinese market is becoming increasingly crucial for sustainable palm oil. As responsible retailers are key practitioners of sustainable standards for natural commodities like palm oil, the retail industry not only plays a pivotal role in requiring the sustainable sourcing of commodities, they should also actively participate in ecological and environmental protection projects to safeguard the countries producing those raw materials. This can help to realise the sustainable development of the whole supply chain – from origins to shelf.

Over the years, RSPO has been playing a positive role in encouraging enterprises in China to implement green procurement and raising members’ awareness about the standards and certification mark for sustainable palm oil. RSPO also shares best practices of international business and advocates enterprises to make commitments around ecological protection and sustainable development.

For more information on RSPO’s initiatives in promoting sustainable palm oil in China, please write to feifei@rspo.org or wan.jian@rspo.org.