Nestle and Marks & Spencer commit to sustainable palm oil; Sarah Hills; 27 October 2009

Global food giant Nestle has announced its commitment to using only Certified Sustainable Palm Oil by 2015, the year when it said sufficient quantities were expected to be available.  

Meanwhile, the UK retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has also outlined its own environmental commitment as it claims to have become the world’s first retailer to purchase GreenPalm certificates to cover its entire palm oil usage. 

Indonesia and Malaysia produce almost 90% of global supply of palm oil, which is used in food such as confectionery and dairy, household items, animal feed and for energy generation. 

Total global production is about 42 million tonnes and Nestlé said it uses 0.7% of the global supply.  

Nestle’s announcement followed a detailed review of its palm oil supply chain. Under the company’s policy on environmental sustainability, it has pledged to give preference to suppliers who strive to improve the efficiency and sustainability of their operations and use of resources. 

M&S said the GreenPalm certificates will cover palm oil used in almost 1,000 M&S food, beauty and home products each year and support manufacturers in the production of certified sustainable palm oil.  

It said the move was “a critical first step” in its commitment to only use certified sustainable palm oil in all of its products by 2015 and to send a clear signal of demand to the market”.  

Paul Willgoss, M&S head of food technology, said alternatives to palm oil, such as rapeseed oil, were already being used wherever possible but where it can’t be replaced, only certified sustainable palm oil will be used.  

He added: “By early 2010 we will have the UK’s widest selection of certified sustainable palm oil products, with a range of nine items including cookies, oatcakes and roast potatoes.” 

Environmental problems from oil palm production include habitat conversion, threats to critical habitat for endangered species and pollution from processing wastes.