Cargill continues key move towards RSPO sustainable palm oil sourcing
30/10/2023 (Confectionery Production) - Cargill has confirmed that from this month it is ceasing offering conventional palm oil in its US portfolio of products, which includes applications for confectionery, as it moves to offer the key ingredient through certified Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) sourcing, writes Neill Barston.
As the company acknowledged, the move comes in response to heightened concerns from consumers, who have placed manufacturers environmental and social responsibilities for manufacturers operations as central to their purchasing decisions
Notably, as Confectionery Production has previously reported, this has seen a number of companies within the sector make renewed investment in proactive sustainability schemes assisting communities in the cocoa and wider confectionery supply chain, as well as signing up in support of upcoming EU legislation designed to deliver transparency and due diligence goals for manufacturing supply chains.
“RSPO members like Cargill represent one of the most pivotal pieces of the supply chain in terms of linking RSPO certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) to supply chain actors wanting to source CSPO for their consumer products,” said Cameron Plese, Head of North America, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
“By bringing certified ingredients to market, companies like Cargill are playing a vital role in enabling RSPO members, and other companies in North America, to continue to achieve their ambitious targets of sourcing and manufacturing products that are 100% RSPO certified. Our hope is that North America will become a market where 100% of products are RSPO certified, and this action that Cargill has taken helps to move us closer to that reality.”
Significantly, Cargill has supplied RSPO-certified palm oil since 2005, and in December 2020, converted its Charlotte, N.C. refinery to 100% segregated palm oil. With this latest move, by January 2024, all customers buying palm oil from one of Cargill’s US refineries can be assured they are receiving RSPO-certified palm oil, sourced from either mass balance or segregated supply chains.
“Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to our goal of having a fully transparent, traceable and sustainable palm oil supply chain, and is an important milestone as we continue to work to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainably way,” said Reid Kinde, Cargill Commercial Leader for Edible Oils North America. “RSPO certification gives customers peace of mind knowing that the palm oil they buy from our U.S. refineries was produced under a comprehensive certification program, with requirements and processes aimed at preventing deforestation and protecting animals and the people who live and work in palm-oil-producing regions.”
In order to ensure sufficient quantities of RSPO-certified palm oil, Cargill invested $200 million in a new palm oil refinery in Lampung, Indonesia. Due to its strategic location, the Lampung refinery sources palm oil directly from Cargill-owned plantations and mills and selected third-party mills which are compliant with Cargill’s policy on sustainability. This enables Cargill to provide customers with higher assurance that our palm oil supply chain is food safe, reliable and traceable.
As the company noted, palm oil remains among the world’s most versatile vegetable oils, used in many supermarket products, from soap and cosmetics to chocolate and noodles. It’s also the most productive oil crop, requiring four to ten times less land than other vegetable oil crops to produce the same amount of oil. However, conventional palm oil does not always provide assurance as to its sourcing practices.
In contrast, production of RSPO-certified palm oil is required to follow a set of sustainability principles and criteria established by the RSPO, which verifies that forests are protected, and social and environmental safeguards are met during the oil’s production and harvest. By offering only RSPO-certified palm oil from its U.S. refineries, the company noted that it is delivering on key milestones for its sustainability commitments. This in turn assists its retail partners, brands and customers who have pledged to source palm oil responsibly, too.
“Responsible ingredient sourcing is good for the planet and good for our business,” said Kinde. “Increasingly, sustainability is a driver for consumers who see product choices as a reflection of who they are and what they value. Our bold commitment to RSPO-certified palm oil supply chains is one way we earn trust and demonstrate prioritisation of sustainable-sourcing practices.”