The revision of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification that will include the latest sustainability requirements and practices solidifies Malaysia’s commitment to elevating the crop’s sustainability game and garner consumer confidence.
This move is timely, given the pressing sustainable development agenda by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are to be achieved by 2030.
While governments and authorities work seamlessly both on sustainability and eliminating misconception, the industry continues to gear up production to cater for the world’s 10 billion population come 2050 with an additional 100 million tonnes of vegetable oil needed for food – making them future-ready.
The oil palm is the most efficient oil-bearing crop in the world.
This is due to its abundant yield per hectare, ability to produce more than one type of vegetable oil (i.e. palm oil from the mesocarp and palm kernel oil from the kernel) and long economic lifespan.
Sustainable palm oil is the only solution
The most sustainable alternative to palm oil is sustainable palm oil, acting head of marketing and communications at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Fay Richards said.
Having said that, she pointed out that achieving a sustainable supply chain that respects biodiversity, natural ecosystems, deforestation, local communities and workers in palm oil-producing countries is a global challenge and a shared responsibility.
For palm oil to be considered sustainable – as is increasingly a key requirement of suppliers and retailers – it must meet strict criteria, she said in a promotional feature in The Grocer – a UK-based online service and weekly magazine with coverage of the whole fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector.
This typically includes ensuring land is being preserved, crops are being grown responsibly and effective programmers are supporting farmers and their communities.
Established in 2004, the RSPO aimed to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil products through global standards and multi-stakeholder governance.
Richards said the RSPO has called on all UK stakeholders to close the gap towards 100 per cent certified sustainable palm oil.
Ferrero sustainability approach
Ferrero Group, an Italian manufacturer of branded chocolate and confectionery products were among the European company that has been consistent in its stand in using palm oil in its products, despite various campaigns in the region against the golden crop.
In fact, this world’s second biggest chocolate producer and confectionery is famous for its Nutella, Ferrero Rocher and Kinder Bueno chocolate brands said it sought about 80 per cent of sustainability certified palm oil from Malaysia, followed by Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
“We are aware that the palm oil supply chain faces environmental challenges, particularly concerning its impact on deforestation.
“That’s why Ferrero is committed to leading the way in driving the sustainable transformation of the palm oil sector and has been one of the first global companies to obtain 100 per cent RSPO-certified segregated palm oil supply chain,” it said.
According to the Ferrero Group Sustainability Report, it acknowledged that when sustainably sourced, there are good reasons to use palm oil and this crop has been used for thousands of years and provides a livelihood for millions of people.
Palm oil enhances the taste
“Palm oil has an excellent yield compared with other vegetable oils – it requires 0.26 hectare to produce one tons of palm oil compared with 1.25 hectares for rapeseed and 2 hectares for sunflower oil.
“We source palm oil for Ferrero products as it plays an important role in achieving a balance between the components, ensuring that the product has the desired structure.
“This enhances the taste of the other ingredients since it is odorless and tasteless after the refining process. It helps maintain the distinctive taste of Ferrero products along with the entire shelf life because of its stability, also thanks to our way of processing it.”
For example, palm oil is key to Nutella’s recipe as it ensures its texture and, with its neutral taste, heightens the flavor of other ingredients.
In financial year 2019/2020, the company sourced around 220,000 tonnes of palm oil from seven countries.
Ferrero which has been a member of the RSPO since 2005 and in 2015, became one of the first global companies to source sustainable palm oil that is 100 per cent RSPO certified segregated.
In 2013, it created the Ferrero Palm Oil Charter to manage the impacts on palm oil communities and address the leading causes of deforestation and social issues, as usual building on top of the group due to diligence process, as per all the commodities of the group.
Malaysia’s MSPO to be at par with RSPO
Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) director-general Dr Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir said as the country has made the MSPO certification mandatory since Jan 1, 2020, the country could also offer MSPO certified oil that should be graded at par with RSPO-certified oil.
“Perhaps we can offer more premium as it complies with all relevant national and international law with regard to sustainability,” he told Bernama recently.
Ahmad Parveez noted that the revised version of the MSPO would see new standards that include the latest sustainability requirements and practices.
“Palm oil will continue to be the powerhouse of the oils and fats market and while we are doing it, we might have done it sustainably.”
In 2020 alone, the world used about 73 million tonnes of palm oil with Indonesia and Malaysia, two of the world’s largest producers, accounting for 85 per cent of the global palm oil production.
What can Malaysians do?
In the Merdeka spirit this month, besides raising our Jalur Gemilang, Malaysians should all act as social media influencers by defending this wonderful crop that has been in the country for more than a century and even before Malaysia gained its independence.
Our ancestors might have been among the people who have worked in the oil palm cultivation, which has become among the economic pillars especially in the 70s and until now it has been passed on to the second and third generations.
So let us spread all the good information about palm oil including Malaysia’s sustainability agenda using social media and reaching out to consumers worldwide.
This public service announcement perhaps could be our way to show appreciation to the country.
Originally introduced to British Malaya in the early 1870s as an ornament plant from West Africa, oil palm products have today been used for so many things from cooking purposes, food products, and also in cleaning materials.