Eradication may not be the future of the palm oil industry

17 Jun 2020

Environmental advocates have been calling for a reevaluation of the palm oil industry for years. While some like the European Palm Oil Alliance are calling for companies to perform mandatory due diligence of their palm oil sourcing, others are calling for the eradication of the oil source. Yet, a new study from Germany’s University of Goettingen and Indonesia’s Bogor Agricultural University says that eradicating the industry entirely may do more harm than good for the environment.

Suddenly implementing a moratorium on worldwide palm oil production will likely lead to increased deforestation and biodiversity loss, according to this new study that synthesizes decades of research done on the environmental and economic impacts of palm oil production.

Eradication may not be the future of the palm oil industry

While deforestation remains rampant in Indonesia and Malaysia, where the majority of the world’s palm oil is produced, other production regions such as Nigeria and Latin America are more likely to be increasing production through expansion on already-converted agricultural lands. Not only that, but the study said the economic repercussions of eradicating the commodity from the world market would be severe.

Most of the land cultivated for palm oil is owned by smallholder farmers who have drastically improved their economic standing thanks to increasing demand for palm oil through the decades. The worldwide acreage used for palm oil cultivation increased over 400% from 12 million acres to 50 million acres between 1980 and 2018.

At the same time that this increase in demand has lifted farmers out of poverty, concerns about increased deforestation remain as farmers develop more land for this intensive monoculture practice, especially in Southeast Asia.

Due to the continuation of this damaging environmental practice, the European Palm Oil Alliance recently called for a mandatory, EU-wide review of company due diligence for sustainable palm oil sourcing. According to Food Navigator, the majority of palm oil in the European Union is already certified sustainable, but 40% in the food and beverage sector remains uncertified. To encourage 100% sustainable sourcing, the alliance is calling for a compulsory regulatory environment for all stakeholders from suppliers to distributors and farmers to FMCG brands.

Finding an avenue to sustainably source this commodity could be beneficial for brands that are reliant on this oil and want to maintain it on their ingredient lists. Not only is palm oil cheaper, but it has a longer shelf life than other options and can stand up to higher-temperature processing than alternatives like rapeseed, soybean and sunflower. Additionally, the output per acre is significantly higher than other oils making it more sustainable to produce per acre than other oil sources.

If companies commit to making their palm oil supply chains sustainable, it could be advantageous not only for them but also for the individual farmers and the economies of palm oil-producing nations.

Related news

Blue Apron co-founder raises $10M to breed a superior chicken

Blue Apron co-founder raises $10M to breed a superior chicken

31 Jul 2020

For decades the American poultry breeding business has been dominated by Cobb and Aviagen. However, Cook Ventures, a new breeder focused on slow-growth, heirloom chickens, may give its two major competitors a run for their money.

Read more 
Study: 2% of Brazil’s soybean farms are responsible for 62% of deforestation

Study: 2% of Brazil’s soybean farms are responsible for 62% of deforestation

29 Jul 2020

A new study published in the Journal of Science found that 20% of soy and 17% of beef imports into European from Brazil may be contaminated with illegal deforestation. Although a substantial figure, this deforestation is linked to a small number of far...

Read more 
Two plant-based investment arms are created and invest in ice cream

Two plant-based investment arms are created and invest in ice cream

28 Jul 2020

Two plant-based startups have migrated into the ranks of venture capitalists. Perfect Day recently created The Urgent Company in order to develop CPG products from its animal-free dairy proteins, and Jason Karp, the co-founder of Hu snacks started Huma...

Read more 
Tyson publishes sustainability report showing progress toward plant-based sustainability

Tyson publishes sustainability report showing progress toward plant-based sustainability

11 Jun 2020

Tyson Foods released its 2019 sustainability report entitled “Grow – Deliver – Sustain” where the company outlines its progress across its five focus areas of food, animal welfare, environment, workplace and communities.

Read more 
Apeel Sciences on track to save 20 million pieces of fruit from food waste

Apeel Sciences on track to save 20 million pieces of fruit from food waste

9 Jun 2020

At the end of May, Apeel Sciences raised $250 million dollars in new financing, bringing the startup’s total funding to more than $1 billion. This infusion of funds will be put toward the company’s mission of food waste prevention, an area in which it ...

Read more 
Malaysian firm develops package-less packaging

Malaysian firm develops package-less packaging

26 May 2020

A group of Malaysian Ph.D. students won the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Save our Seas global engineering challenge with their new bagless approach to food packaging called the PICAS block. The competition is hosted in partnership wi...

Read more 
Hong Kong compostable food packaging startup lands $6 million funding round

Hong Kong compostable food packaging startup lands $6 million funding round

18 May 2020

Hong Kong startup Ecoinno received US$6 million in Series A funding from the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund to help stand up its manufacturing facilities as well as increase its overall production of its biodegradable packaging. This is the startup’s secon...

Read more 
COVID-19: Zomato delivery app shows body temperature of drivers in India

COVID-19: Zomato delivery app shows body temperature of drivers in India

27 Apr 2020

In an effort to further increase the safety of those ordering take out, Zomato introduced a temperature tracking feature on its delivery app in India. The feature was released the week of April 13 and covered 50% of the application’s delivery partners ...

Read more 
Catered foodservice meals in the UK to have 20% less meat

Catered foodservice meals in the UK to have 20% less meat

24 Apr 2020

Public sector caterers serving schools, universities, hospitals and care homes have pledged to reduce the amount of meat served on their menus by 20%. There is simultaneously a focus on reducing overall red meat offerings.

Read more 
Scientists discover enzyme, breaks down 90% of PET polymers in hours

Scientists discover enzyme, breaks down 90% of PET polymers in hours

21 Apr 2020

PET plastic can now be broken down into food-grade materials within 10 hours due to a discovery by scientists at industrial chemical firm Carbios. This discovery will transition into industrial-scale trials in 2021 with the help of Carbios’ partnership...

Read more