RSPO-Certified Sustainable Palm Oil Trending Upward


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—In 2011, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) reported unprecedented growth for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). Its inaugural qualitative review—2011 RSPO CSPO Growth Interpretation Narrative (2011 GIN)—aimed at recording and analyzing the growth and trends of RSPO and CSPO in the global marketplace.

The report confirmed the upward trend in the supply and sale of sustainable palm oil, since the certification of the commodity was first launched by the RSPO in 2008. From 2009 to 2011, supply of CSPO has increased by 250 percent (1,357,511 metric tons in 2009 to 4,798,512 metric tons in 2011), while sales volume has grown by more than six times, approximately 620 percent (343,857 metric tons in 2009 to 2,490,526 metric tons in 2011). According to the report, the year-on-year supply of CSPO in 2011 increased by 73 percent, reaching 4,798,512 metric tons compared to 2,773,567 metric tons in 2010, while year-on-year sales volume increased by 94 percent.

The surge in supply can be attributed to the rising number of certified growers entering into RSPO’s certification process. While in 2008, RSPO could count 17 certified mills in just two countries (Malaysia and Papua New Guinea), today there are 29 grower companies with 135 certified mills in six countries: Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands—an increase in certified mills of approximately eight times over a three-year period.

“The growth of CSPO has shown an escalating trend and clearly reflects the inclination of sustainability standards towards palm oil," said Darrel Webber, secretary general of the RSPO commented. “RSPO praises the efforts of growers for embarking on the certification process and committing themselves to the RSPO Principles and Criteria. A total of US$21.5 million worth of premiums has been paid to date to RSPO certified growers since the first certificates via the Book & Claim system under the GreenPalm were traded in 2008 , and we hope that the growers have found this valuable in empowering their transformation to sustainable cultivation practices."

RSPO membership has also been rapidly expanding in the past year. Membership  of consumer goods manufacturer increased by more than 60 percent, while the retailers category increased by 50 percent—both primarily from the European regions which is an affirmative step in accelerating demand of CSPO. The processors & traders category also intensified by more than 30 percent strengthening commitment along the palm oil supply chain, another integral development in transforming the market.

“Central to all these strategies is the RSPO commitment to our philosophy of harmonizing the interests of diverse group of nations, organizations and individuals through an inclusive, participative and consensual process," Webber said. “We will continue our openness, responsiveness, accessibility and accountability. Despite the dynamic landscape, our pursuit for transformation to make sustainable palm oil the norm does seem to be drawing closer."

Jan Kees Vis, RSPO president and global director sustainable sourcing development for Unilever said: “While reflecting on the trends and performance of 2011, the RSPO will advance forward focused on three strategic pillars for 2012 which include:

  1. To increase CSPO uptake among current demand markets while penetrating major new markets for sustainable palm oil. We aim to achieve this by: driving membership and strategic collaborations in new demand markets such as India and China, increasing membership throughout the supply chain to focus more on processors & traders to consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, tracking the annual communications on progress reports by members on their pledge towards CSPO; and promoting and marketing the adoption of the RSPO trademark.
  2. Continuing certification momentum in large producer nations, while concurrently guiding and accelerating certification in new frontiers. We will do this through engagement and outreach within our multi stakeholder structure and also with various governments, member companies and associations; as well as facilitating funding and capacity building mechanisms for smallholders and new frontiers.
  3. To enhance RSPO’s international standards for certification through the current review process of its Principles & Criteria, and address significant concerns such as GHG emissions and Indirect Land Use Change; guide and facilitate the New Planting Procedure and Supply Chain Certification process, commit to solving grievance concerns through a constructive engagement process; and develop acceptance of RSPO standards for other international schemes such as those for biofuels and benchmarking our standards through strategic and synergistic collaboration."