Sainsbury's Inching Toward 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil

UK grocery giant Sainsbury’s has announced that 95 percent of the palm oil used in its own-brand products is now certified as sustainably sourced. The supermarket revealed this statistic late last month, on the day it also became the first UK retailer to launch a dishwashing liquid made with palm oil certified as sustainable by mass balance analysis.

Sainsbury’s now has almost 400 certified own-brand products (396 to be precise) — ranging from food items to household, health and cosmetic products — made with fully segregated, certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), meaning the ingredient in each of these products has been fully guaranteed throughout its supply chain. Combining both those certified through segregated and mass balance means, the total of the retailer’s own-brand products featuring sustainable palm oil tops 1,100.

Sainsbury’s collection of certified food products continues to grow. Sainsbury’s was the first to bring sustainably sourced palm oil products to the market, with its basic fish fingers in May 2008. It now has 380+ own-brand food and drink products made with segregated CSPO, guaranteeing the oil comes from plantations that meet key environmental and social benchmarks.

"We are proud to have made such progress by working hard with our suppliers to transform the way our products are made,” said Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand. “Sourcing sustainable palm oil is extremely important for our business as it helps tackle deforestation and reflects the expectations of our customers.”

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Sainsbury’s has been a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) since 2006, which sets environmental and social criteria for sustainable sourcing, and attempts to continue to improve standards across the supply chain. The retailer says it buys GreenPalm certificates for those products that are not currently CSPO-certified — these certificates support RSPO-certified farmers and growers.

Palm oil sourcing has come under intense scrutiny from NGOs in recent years for its role in deforestation, especially in Southeast Asia. As of December — with Singapore-based supplier Musim Mas finally getting on board — roughly 96 percent of the world’s palm oil is now covered under zero-deforestation commitments, thanks to pressure from some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies committing to sustainable and traceable sourcing of the oil in the past two years. For those still looking to get in the game, the Food and Drink Foundation recently published a new guide to help food and beverage manufacturers sustainably source the oil.

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