RSPO to certify 20% of palm oil output by 2015

Jakarta Post: Linda Yulisman:  Wed, 18/01/2012

Indonesia's certified palm oil production is expected to reach about 5.6 million tons by 2015, or one-fifth of its total palm oil output throughout the year, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) auditing body estimates.

RSPO Indonesia director Desi Kusumadewi said on Tuesday in Jakarta the additional output would come from a number of plantations, which had agreed to join the RSPO audit up to 2015.

The plantations will include those run by the country's major palm oil firms, such as Sinar Mas, Musim Mas, Bakrie Sumatra Plantation, London Sumatra Plantation and Sampoerna Agro.

"Certified sustainable palm oil [CSPO] production will grow by 700,000 tons annually and we estimate that Indonesia's total CSPO will reach 5.6 million tons by 2015," she told The Jakarta Post.

Desi said that this year alone, the country's CSPO would rise by 52.83 percent to 3.5 million tons this year, increasing its contribution by 9 percent to 50 percent of the global CSPO output. In achieving that, Indonesia will overtake Malaysia as the largest producer of CSPO.

As of last December, the production area of sustainable palm oil in Indonesia totaled 465,745 hectares.

"There will be a sharp increase in the amount of CSPO this year as many companies that passed through the auditing process last year will soon be certified," Desi said, adding that the audited plantations would contribute an additional 1 million tons to this year's Indonesian CSPO figure, while the remaining 200,000 tons would be sourced from other companies whose plantations were set to undergo audits during the year.

The Indonesian Palm Oil Producers' Association (Gapki) recently estimated that the country's overall palm-oil output would rise by 6.4 percent to 25 million metric tons this year.

According to Desi, the rising demand for sustainable palm oil will continue to drive the number of RSPO members in Indonesia, as in other countries, especially consumers and processors.

"The prospect comes from Europe and the United States. However, we've already educated the market in China and India about the CSPO. The certification will become a passport for selling the product in the international market, as being sustainable means increasing the competitiveness of the firms, maintaining existing markets and opening new ones," she explained.

Big buyers in European countries, for example, have expressed their commitment to buying only sustainable palm oil by 2015.

Sustainability in palm oil production is a central issue for the domestic palm oil industry as big buyers, such as Nestle and Unilever, suspended their purchase contracts in 2010 due to allegations of deforestation by major plantations in their expansion programs.

Besides the sustainability scheme developed by the RSPO, Indonesia is implementing a government-backed, sustainable palm-oil certification program called the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil scheme, which will begin operating this year.