AAK warns manufacturers against sustainable palm oil ‘claims trap’

Major refiner and supplier of edible oils and fats, AAK UK is warning manufacturers against falling into a ‘claims trap’ when they’re buying sustainable palm oil products...

Major refiner and supplier of edible oils and fats, AAK UK is warning manufacturers against falling into a ‘claims trap’ when they’re buying sustainable palm oil products. The company is concerned about what it calls the ‘sell-and-run’ supply of material, involving sales to manufacturers without advice on international restrictions on use.

While the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has strict rules governing claims that can be made about using sustainable palm oil, AAK UK md Martin Craven says many buyers risk falling foul of them through a lack of advice from the supplier, in turn harming 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,” says Craven. “The rules exist to maintain the integrity of the system, and yet this is not always made clear from the start by suppliers. All parties of the supply chain – including the manufacturer – must now 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.

In May, the RSPO introduced a certified sustainable palm oil trademark for use by by manufacturers and retailers, but only companies whose products meet the stringent criteria required can use this.

AAK is a founder member of the RSPO and an RSPO-approved supplier and offers ‘sustainability clinics’ to explain the approved supply chain options, trademark use and the process of buying sustainable material and making claims.

“Whether they buy 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,” adds Craven.

“Where there is not yet a suitable sustainable option for a manufacturer, especially those using palm blends, derivatives or palm kernel oil, we show them how they can still play a role with the GreenPalm programme, an option endorsed by the RSPO as a means of incentivising the use of RSPO-certified production methods.”

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