This month, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) CEO Datuk Darrel Webber and Secretariat team members traveled to Wuhan, China for the 2019 China Sustainable Palm Oil Supply Chain Forum and 2019 RSPO China Forum. The event, held in conjunction with the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce (CFNA) and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature China (WWF China) explored opportunities in the market for growth in Greater China, to promote the use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), and support the market by providing information on using the RSPO CSPO supply chains. 

The international event brought together participants from government agencies, media, commodity traders, processors, manufacturers, retailers and civil society organisations. Panels at the forum included representatives from the world’s largest companies including COFCO, Mars and HSBC, as well as foundations such as The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, on what they believe it will take to move the market and achieve wider awareness and uptake of sustainable palm oil in China.

Datuk Darrel Webber told the crowd of the recent increase in membership in Greater China, reaching 150 members with 100 members alone in Mainland China. In terms of Supply Chain Certified sites, the Greater China region should approach more than 80 facilities certified by the end of 2019, and Mainland China projects will have almost 50 by the end of 2019.

CFNA President Cao Derong, provided the forum attendees the latest updates on the market forces, regulations and trends that will shape the future of certified sustainable palm oil in China, as well as the efforts made by Chinese and international organisations, institutions and enterprises, to promote certified sustainable palm oil. Mr. Cao emphasised Premier Xi’s concept of environmental conservation that “green mountains and waters are golden and silver mountains and waters” and that China can contribute to the protection of tropical forestry resources while still remaining competitive domestically and globally. 

Focusing on what might move consumers in Mainland China, Jin Zhonghao, China Director, WWF, Market Transformation Project, took attendees through a consumer survey that suggested consumers in the country prefer and would pay more for products containing CSPO whether shopping online or in-person. 

After the forum ended, the China Sustainable Palm Oil Alliance (CSPOA) met to discuss upcoming objectives in the market. The CSPOA, launched in July 2018, continues to grow and now has nine members. Three new members were added to the Alliance Forum – Musim Mas, Barry Callebaut and CDP – join current members AarhusKarlshamn (AAK), Cargill China, HSBC, L’Oréal China, Mars and MingFai Group. The CSPOA was jointly launched by RSPO, China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce (CFNA) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to create a platform for win-win cooperation among stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain and to promote sustainable palm oil in China. 

Additionally, the RSPO Secretariat has expanded its team in China to two people as of the writing of this article, reflecting the importance of this market to the success of certified sustainable palm oil. 

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