Palm oil

Responsible Sourcing: Palm Oil

Palm oil is the world’s most widely used vegetable oil. It is produced from the fruit of oil palm trees. Due to its versatile nature, one in ten supermarket products, soaps and detergents, cosmetics and foods contain palm oil. 

Demand for edible vegetable oil is predicted to double by 2030 and to triple by 2050, fuelling increased demand.


As well as being versatile and low cost, it is also highly productive. Its yield per hectare are far greater than other vegetable oils. In fact, while it represents 38% of the world’s supply of edible oil, it is grown on only 5% of the land dedicated to oilseed crops. This means that palm oil, if grown responsibly, can play a key role in making our food systems capable of feeding a growing population. This also means using less land, limiting greenhouse gas emissions and protecting ecosystems.

Negative impacts

Palm oil production in the wrong place can have significant negative impacts. The increasing demand is increasing the need for land suitable for palm oil production. The key production regions are Indonesia and Malaysia, where the expansion of cultivation is driving the loss of prime forest. Deforestation results in the loss of carbon stores from both the trees and the sensitive peat soils underneath. 

The destruction of these forests is reducing the habitat available for critically endangered species such as orang-utans, elephants, rhinos and tigers.

Cultivation and production is a hot topic for consumers, media and for governments. This presents a challenge for supply chain/CSR managers and business strategists around the world.

Reducing the risks associated with procurement of palm oil

Our sustainability experts can help clients procure palm oil responsibly by:

Raising awareness of the importance of responsible sourcing

We can help you communicate goals and performance with regards to sustainable procurement.

Understand current sourcing

We can analyse your current performance around sustainable sourcing and assess supply chain risk. This can include engaging with suppliers to find out where palm oil is entering the food chain, in what form, and from what origin.

Develop a responsible sourcing policy

We can develop and assist you with implementing a corporate responsible sourcing policy which can include:

  • Review implementation options (i.e. joining roundtables)
  • Strengthen relationships with suppliers by providing information
  • Identify and evaluate alternative sourcing strategies

Monitor and evaluate

We can work with businesses to independently assess their sustainability achievements for internal and external purposes. This may include:

  • Preparing submissions for NGO scorecards, evaluate performance and drive improvements.
  • Calculating palm oil footprint
  • Demonstrating compliance with sustainable sourcing commitments
  • Ensuring achievements and difficulties are communicated internally to achieve buy-in and solicit input.
Contact Managing Director Sarah Wynn if you would like advice regarding palm oil procurement.

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