Woolworths investigates Australia’s sustainable palm oil

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 3rd March 2011

Woolworths today put out a request for information to all suppliers and importers of palm oil in Australia, in an attempt to assess the availability of sustainable palm oil.

The supermarket chain aims to use only palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in its private label products by 2015, a target set in March last year, and the supermarket became the first Australian retail member of the RSPO in September.

Woolworths said that while deforestation and threatened habitats were being attributed to increasing global demand for palm oil, the crop was an efficient one, with a yield up to 10 times more than other crops.

“Woolworths is serious about its commitment to using only CSPO in our private label products by 2015. The purpose of the RFI is to assess the current supply levels available in Australia, as we know that only about 7% of the global palm oil supply is RSPO certified. This means we have the opportunity to drive market transformation, but we recognise that this change needs to be managed in a responsible way,” said Armineh Mardirossian, Group Manager of Corporate Responsibility for Woolworths.

Woolworths said they were inviting feedback from all CSPO suppliers and importers to Australia to join the research effort.

“We want the whole market to get involved and be a part of this process. It is important to get a clear picture of what is available in Australia and where in the supply chain capacity building is required. This has not been done yet and is a critical step in assessing what the industry as a whole needs to do to in order to transition to CSPO as soon as practical,” said Armineh.

The supermarket underlined that the initiative is only an information gathering exercise, and is not part of a supply tender.