Tuesday, 21 April 2009

FACTBOX-"Green" palm oil in high street shops

FACTBOX-"Green" palm oil in high street shops

21 Apr 2009 11

Source: Reuters

April 21 (Reuters) - A drive to improve the green credentials of palm oil, used in foods and cosmetics but tainted for some by links to deforestation, could make it too expensive for shoppers and may anyway be of limited environmental benefit.

The Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is trying to boost trade by asking some of its 266 members to publicly state their commitment to converting to sustainable palm oil.

But many firms are shying away from discussing their palm oil use, as the issue of "green" palm remains contentious.

Following are details of some major companies' public commitments to 'sustainable' palm oil:

* Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever, maker of Flora margarine and Dove soap, has pledged to use only certified sustainable palm oil by 2015. The firm, which says it buys about 1.6 million tonnes of palm oil and its derivatives each year, about 4 percent of world supplies, has also said it will have fully traceable supply chains in place for the palm oil it uses in Europe by 2012.

* British supermarket group J Sainsbury has pledged to convert all its own brand products to using only sustainable palm oil by December 2014.So far, it says it has converted its frozen fish category, its basic fish fingers, and its solid soaps. It is also changing its labelling to name palm oil specifically.

* Dutch supermarket group Ahold plans to convert all own brand products in its Dutch chains Albert Heijn and Etos to using only sustainable palm oil by 2015.

* Cosmetics retailer The Body Shop, owned by beauty products group L'Oreal, says the palm oil in its soaps is sourced from a sustainable plantation in Colombia. It also pledged to use RSPO certified palm oil when it is available.

* Swiss supermarket group Migros has publicly stated that it plans to buy sustainable palm oil through the RSPO certification scheme and will aim to ensure that its suppliers are also buying through the system.

(Sources: RSPO, Unilever, J Sainsbury, Ahold, L'Oreal, Migros)

(Reporting by Catherine Hornby, editing by William Hardy)