Europe on its way to achieving 100% sustainable palm oil

Europe imports 69% CSPO for food. European food industry uses 60% CSPO. A new monitoring report by the European Sustainable Palm Oil (ESPO) project shows that there is a growing volume of sustainable palm oil entering the European market.

Some 69% of the palm oil imported for food into European refineries was certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) in 2016, and approximately 60% of the palm oil used for food in Europe was estimated to be CSPO in 2016.

The report provides insights on the palm oil import and trade flow in 13 European countries. It highlights the positive development of an increasing number of national commitments to reach 100% sustainable palm oil in 2020. As the second largest global import market for palm oil, Europe is strongly positioned to lead the way in mitigating the negative impact of unsustainable palm oil production.

ESPO works in close collaboration with various national palm oil initiatives on sustainable palm oil and umbrella EU associations. ESPO and all its European partners strive towards the goal of 100% sustainable palm oil in Europe by 2020 and aim to engage all parties who are not yet active to join this effort. This is important, since mainstream sustainable palm oil demand from Europe will help incentivize smallholder palm oil producers in Asia, Africa and Latin America to implement responsible production practices and halt deforestation connected to palm oil.

According to the report the European palm oil supply chain is making good progress towards its 100% commitment, however the figures show that there is still a gap between the imported volume of CSPO and the actual uptake for CSPO by the food industry. The next step is to increase the uptake of imported CSPO into Europe.

All stakeholders in the supply chain need to work together and commit to increase the use of sustainable palm oil. The positive trend of increased use of sustainable palm oil in Europe goes hand in hand with increased production of sustainable palm oil in producing countries over the last years. In 2017, 2,83 million hectares were certified as Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), 1,9 million hectares as Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) and 260.000 hectares as Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO).

Positive trend despite country specific challenges

Progress within national initiatives for sustainable palm oil is strong; Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have either already met or are well underway to deliver on their 100% sustainable certified palm oil and additional 2020 targets. National initiatives in Italy, Sweden, Spain, and Norway are not yet able to provide complete figures on the uptake of CSPO. At the same time, the current figures show that the volume of sustainable palm oil uptake will need to increase in markets such as Italy, Spain and Poland to meet the 2020 objectives.

Supply and demand

On the production side, smallholder farmers are increasingly involved and are actively driving sustainability initiatives. ESPO recognizes the importance of the national initiatives by the Indonesian and Malaysian governments, ISPO and MSPO, to include many more producers, especially smallholder farmers, on the path towards sustainable  palm oil.

At the downstream side, the cooperation of national initiatives in ESPO and the support of governments via the Amsterdam Declaration, are important for scaling up the demand for sustainable palm oil. There are many examples in various sectors for the use of sustainable palm oil and the different chain of custody models offer gradual solutions towards 100% sustainable palm oil. Companies are stimulated to work towards physical, (Mass Balance or Segregated) supply chains, or develop a direct link with their main sourcing regions, for instance via verified sourcing areas or targeted projects aimed at improving specific issues.

About ESPO

The report was presented by the European Sustainable Palm Oil (ESPO) project at the 5th annual European Palm Oil Conference (EPOC) in Brussels. ESPO was established in 2015 by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and MVO – the Netherlands Oils and Fats Industry, to stimulate the uptake of more sustainable palm oil by the European private sector. The goal is to achieve 100% sustainable palm oil in Europe by 2020, working in close collaboration with national initiatives and associations to promote shared learning, improved monitoring of the use of sustainable palm oil, and transparent reporting on the progress made. The objective is to deliver a more detailed and elaborate report by the end of 2018, in order to improve the overall monitoring and demonstrate the progress national initiatives and other partners are making in reaching the common goal of a 100% sustainable palm in Europe by 2020.

To learn more about sustainable palm oil in Europe, read the monitoring report here.