European retailers are having a positive influence on the market by implementing sourcing policies that meet their environmental and social commitments. Yet, there still remain challenges in closing the gap in order to achieve a 100% sustainable palm oil supply chain. Mindful of this, the RSPO Europe Market Transformation team organised two events with stakeholders in April to discuss a number of these persisting challenges and corresponding solutions. 

Hosted in Bologna, Italy, MARCA, the Private Label Exhibition and Conference, saw the participation of RSPO and the Italian Union for Sustainable Palm Oil. The organisations had a joint exhibition and held a side meeting with key stakeholders to discuss certification, progress in fighting climate change, biodiversity protection and concrete commitments to transition to a fully sustainable palm oil supply chain. 

Key stakeholders that contributed to the MARCA dialogue included Carrefour Italy and Unigrà. Both companies outlined their commitments and sustainable procurement policies.

Discussing the sustainable procurement policies implemented by Unigrà in its palm oil supply chain and its progression towards traceability, Marcello Valenti, Unigrà Head of Environment and Sustainability explained that, “A list of all mills and the sustainability indicators connected to them are made public on our company website and thanks to satellite monitoring, we are able to control what is happening in the area, to ensure the absence of deforestation.” 
Marta Casella, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager of Carrefour Italy, discussed the process initiated by Carrefour and the commitments undertaken regarding Food Transition and 100% Sustainable Forests, which provides for a risk reduction plan for some raw materials and for palm oil, in particular, complete tracing by 2022 with RSPO certified material from the  Segregated (SG) model.
The need for a collective effort between all players was highlighted in the dialogue. As an example, along their supply chains, retailers often involve other companies such as private label producers that have their own sourcing policies, which may not necessarily reflect the same sustainability goals. While some producers always provide certified sustainable materials, others only provide this when sustainable sourcing is an explicit request from retailers. A strategic approach to a sustainable supply chain is one where private label producers and retailers are fully aligned on sustainable sourcing policies.  

Animal feed sector sustainable sourcing

While more European retailers are implementing sustainable policies, particularly for the food supply chain, the animal feed sector lags behind in sustainable sourcing. In a webinar hosted by RSPO in April, the non-profit Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe) presented its Feed Radar report on the engagements and challenges of the supply chain, including 18 retailers and wholesalers in Germany.

In Europe, Germany has the largest RSPO membership base and over 70% of these members have obtained Supply Chain Certification. The animal feed industry has the third largest share of German palm oil consumption after the energy and food sectors. Since 2017, the animal feed sector has lagged behind the target set by the German government in 2014 to voluntarily switch to 100% sustainable, deforestation-free palm oil by 2020. While 90% of palm oil used as an ingredient in food is sourced from sustainably certified and deforestation-free cultivation, the sustainable share of palm oil used in animal feed is only 25%.

Since the feed sector is an entirely separate supply chain, retailers must engage different suppliers in the sustainability dialogue. This is one of RSPO’s objectives, to aim for greater involvement of retailers and their suppliers.

In the same webinar, RSPO member and German retailer Lidl Stiftung described its commitment to sourcing certified sustainable palm oil in its feed supply chain, which includes understanding their palm oil usage and footprint, promoting plant-based substitutes for meat and dairy to reduce the environmental impact and purchasing RSPO Independent Smallholder Credits to cover palm oil usage.  

Sustainable Palm Oil Dialogue (SPOD) 

On 20 October 2022, the RSPO together with the European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) will host the next Sustainable Palm Oil Dialogue (SPOD) in the Netherlands. In a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, this conference aims to offer a deep dive into key innovations, legislation and communication that can help to secure a more sustainable palm oil supply chain. 

Shared Responsibility framework

Making sustainable palm oil the norm is a transformative process. The RSPO Shared Responsibility framework encourages companies to be a leader of change in this transformation. For downstream actors, like private label producers and retailers, Shared Responsibility translates into a sustainable supply chain by requiring a sustainable sourcing policy as one of the re    quirements. While there is a gap in sourcing sustainable palm oil in the feed sector, there are a number of retailers in Europe who are stepping up their sustainability commitment. RSPO stands ready to support its members to make the transition to 100% certified sustainable palm oil a reality in all of their supply chains. 

To learn more about SPOD 2022 or to get a copy of the feed sector webinar recording, contact the Europe team at [email protected].

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