Palm oil is something of a wonder crop. The reason that it is the largest part of global vegetable oil production is that it is the most efficient and versatile vegetable oil. When produced responsibly, it can support millions of livelihoods globally and reduce pressure on forests and sensitive ecosystems. When not produced responsibly, it can have major environmental and social impact.
Why do we still use palm oil?
With high-yields and enormous versatility, palm oil is used in a wide range of products – from chocolate to shampoo, washing powder to margarine, peanut butter to ice cream.
It is also used as a biofuel and a cooking oil across large swathes of Asia.
Alternatives present big challenges around affordability, acceptability and sustainability. Lower yields mean using more farmland, which could also lead to deforestation. The alternatives are not necessarily better in terms of environmental and social impact.
What we are doing to source palm oil responsibly
We are a member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the most widely recognised certification scheme. We have achieved RSPO certification for 100% of our palm oil used in the products made in the UK.
Globally, at the end of 2021, 91% of our palm oil volume was assessed as deforestation free, a number that will continue to progress towards 100% by the end of 2022.
We also invest in a range of additional tools and partnerships to ensure that the palm oil we use has been grown responsibly. We work directly with our suppliers and others to improve farming practices, working conditions and livelihoods in the industry. And we agree that progress in addressing deforestation and diversity loss has not been quick enough and are committed to doing more.
When we can’t see the forest for the trees
We have worked with Airbus and Earthworm Foundation to implement Starling, a network of radar and optical satellites that conduct regular surveillance of rainforest areas at risk from deforestation in areas around the mills we source from. The monitoring supplements the other tools we use, including certification, supply chain mapping and on-the-ground verification to combat deforestation.
A Forest Positive future
Over the last ten years, our understanding of deforestation and its drivers has increased. In June 2021, we published our Forest Positive strategy, building on our decade-long work to end deforestation in our supply chains.
Forest Positive means moving beyond just managing deforestation risks in our supply chain to target a positive impact on our broader sourcing landscapes. Our strategy aims to help conserve and restore the world’s forests and natural ecosystems while promoting sustainable livelihoods and respecting human rights, including empowering Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to be stewards of critical natural ecosystems.
By working in partnership across the food industry and beyond, we can continue to help build a future for forests that is positive for people and the planet.
Let us be clear
To hold our suppliers and ourselves accountable and to encourage industry-wide transparency, we publish Nestlé Supply Chain Disclosure: Palm Oil (pdf, 8Mb). This is a list of our direct palm oil suppliers, their mills and country of origin. The list accounts for 93% of the total volume of palm oil we source annually.
However, to monitor conditions on the ground we need to go further up the chain and focus on traceability to plantation. So far, we have achieved this for 62% of our volume.
As another part of our commitment to supply-chain transparency, we publish Palm Oil Transparency Dashboard. This gives more detailed information about how we are using Starling to combat deforestation.