Our position on sourcing sustainable palm oil

Daniel Salter
Daniel Salter
Responsible Sourcing Manager

We know our customers care about where key ingredients in the products they buy, such as palm oil, come from and how they are produced.

Palm oil is a common ingredient used in many food and non-food products. When sourced responsibly, it is one of the most efficient vegetable oils with the least environmental impact. However, as global diets change, demand for palm oil is increasing and putting more and more pressure on forests and biodiversity. As part of our Little Helps Plan, we have committed to achieve zero net deforestation in the sourcing of our key forest commodities including palm oil, soy and timber, by 2020 – and we are making good progress.

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

As a first step to achieving zero deforestation in the production of palm oil we use palm oil that is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Tesco has been a member of the RSPO since 2006. The RSPO certification covers strict standards on:

  • Deforestation and planting of palm oil – no new planting allowed in place of primary forest or areas of high conservation value since 2005 and a ban on the use of fire to clear land;
  • Environmental impacts – requirements to measure and reduce climate change emissions, keep soils healthy and prevent erosion, and use pesticides safely;
  • Land rights – free, prior and informed consent of local people to plant palm oil on their land;
  • Labour standards – decent working conditions and wages.

100% of the palm oil used in our UK Own Brand products is certified to the RSPO standard, and we are working to achieve RSPO certified palm oil for all our international businesses.

Working together to achieve a sustainable future for palm oil

However, we know that certification can only ever provide part of the answer to achieving a truly sustainable global palm oil industry. A core part of our approach is therefore to work with other industry groups and leading environmental NGOs such as WWF, to address the complex challenges associated with palm oil.

As an active member of the RSPO, we have been working to continuously strengthen the RSPO standard. We are pleased that earlier this month it was agreed the RSPO standard will include additional requirements for the protection of forests, biodiversity, workers and local communities going forward.

As part of the Consumer Goods Forum we are working to ensure that certification is complemented by effective forest governance, strong government policies and enforcement, supportive financial markets and product innovation. We are also leading members of the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition which provides an annual ranking of the zero deforestation performance of palm oil companies to enable members of the coalition, like ourselves, to ensure that our suppliers are sourcing palm oil from companies that are making progress on their zero deforestation commitments.

With conservation experts like WWF advising that a large-scale switch away from palm oil to less efficient oils is likely to lead to increased environmental pressure, we will continue to work in our own business and with others across the palm oil value chain to achieve a truly sustainable future for palm oil.

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