Manufacturers need to be careful to avoid sustainable palm oil ‘claims trap’

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sustainable palm oil Palm oil

Martin Craven, managing director at AAK
Martin Craven, managing director at AAK
Despite the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) having strict rules governing claims that can be made about sustainable palm oil, manufacturers should be careful of the advice they are given from suppliers to avoid falling into the ‘claims trap’.

AAK UK, a supplier of oils and fats, has released this warning as it is concerned about the sell-and-run supply of material, which is sold to manufacturers without advice on the international restrictions on its use.

Palm oil, palm kernel oil and their derivatives are present in about 70 per cent of cosmetic and personal care products and the RSPO, which is a multi-stakeholder initiative, aims to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil.

However, Martin Craven, managing director of AAK UK, warned that many buyers risk falling foul of claims through a lack of advice from the supplier, which in turn, harms the credibility and efforts of the sustainable palm oil movement.

“It is important to make clear that any user of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil must be a member of the RSPO if they want to tell their customers and stakeholders about their use of sustainable palm oil,”​ said Craven.

In line with current RSPO guidelines, all parties of the supply chain, including the manufacturer, must be RSPO members and go through the full audit and certification process in order to use sustainable palm oil and make claims about it. Otherwise, the palm oil they are buying is essentially no longer classed as RSPO-certified sustainable.

“There is an onus on the supplier to inform and support customers. It’s not right for a supplier to sell and run, leaving their customers to find out the truth when they’ve already invested in marketing, packaging, policy documents and CSR statements,”​ Carven explained.

“In my opinion, any supplier that sells sustainable palm oil without guiding and supporting the customer in relation to its use is selling only half a product.”

In May, the RSPO introduced a trademark that can be displayed by manufacturers and retailers using RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil, but only if their products meet stringent criteria concerning sustainable content.

UK-based AAK offers ‘sustainability clinics’ to businesses to explain the RSPO-approved supply chain options, use of the new trademark, and the process of buying sustainable material and making claims.

Martin Craven added: “Whether they buy it from us or another supplier is irrelevant, as our role as a board member of the RSPO is to promote sustainable palm oil and do all we can to help businesses to buy it.”

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