September 21, 2011
The Dutch Product Board for Margarine, Fats and Oils (MVO), a group that has already committed to sourcing 100 percent of its palm oil demand to RSPO-certified suppliers by 2015, called upon the E.U. to abolish the 3.8 percent duty on crude palm oil imported into Europe. The group says lifting the duty would help offset the additional costs of producing certified palm oil.
MVO's call was immediately supported by the RSPO, a multistakeholder body that sets criteria for 'sustainable' palm oil production. Members of the RSPO include producers, processors, traders, manufacturers, retailers, and environmental and social NGOs.
"The RSPO looks forward to future opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with EU decision-makers regarding the proposal made by the MVO."
The RSPO was formed in 2004 as a response to concern that oil palm expansion was driving deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia, the countries that account for more than 80 percent of production. RSPO criteria include guidelines for avoiding conversion of high conservation value forest areas, treating waste products, reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and interacting with local communities and workers.
While the RSPO has faced some criticism from environmentalists over its oversight and enforcement mechanisms, the group has recently censured some high profile members for failing to comply with its standards. In the meantime, RSPO sales have soared and now account for nearly 10 percent of global palm oil production.
Due to its high yield and low cost relative to other oilseeds, palm oil is widely used in processed food products, soaps, and cosmetics. In some markets, up to half of packaged proceeded foods may contain palm oil or palm oil derivatives.