Understanding the issues surrounding sustainable palm oil in cosmetics

Sustainable palm oil is predominantly grown for the food industry, but cosmetics companies are showing interest too as environmental goals become a priority. So what should they consider in their strategies to include this ingredient?

As cosmetics companies prioritise sustainable palm oil in their formulations, what are the key challenges for manufacturers and their supply chains today?

Chris Sayner is Vice President for Customer Alliances Corporate Sustainability at Croda. He talks to Cosmetics Business about the issues facing the industry today

Chris Sayner

How many companies use sustainable palm oil in their formulations globally?

Consumer awareness of the environmental issues surrounding palm production, particularly deforestation and loss of biodiversity is creating more pressure than ever for companies to support and use sustainable palm.

This movement is most pronounced in the home, food and personal care industries, largely due to the very wide use of palm derivatives within these consumer goods; around 70% of the world’s personal care products contain palm-derived raw materials together with many household detergent products.

It is estimated that the H&PC industry consumes around 5% (c.2% personal care and c.3% household) of the world production of palm oil and palm kernel oil, mainly as derivatives.

Use of sustainable palm oil differs from country to country, depending on availability and consumer awareness. I would say the top 12 finished product manufacturers in the personal care arena account for 50% of products on the market, and these are the companies leading the way in the use of sustainable palm-derived raw materials.

Is demand for sustainable palm oil growing among cosmetics manufacturers?

Sustainability is a significant and growing issue for all cosmetics manufacturers – though it is a relatively new one. The first reports in this area came from P&G, Unilever and Henkel in 1999 and 2000.

Why is sustainable palm oil worth considering by cosmetics formulators and should more brands be using it?

Food has dominated the discussion on palm given that over 50% of packaged or processed foods contain palm oil and derivatives but the demand in H&PC is now attracting more attention. This is due to growing consumer awareness and increasing NGO activity questioning . . .

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