Sustainable palm fractions on sale by 2011

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Palm oil New britain palm oil

The company behind what is claimed to be the world’s first refinery exclusively handling sustainably produced palm oil is also aiming to be the...

The company behind what is claimed to be the world’s first refinery exclusively handling sustainably produced palm oil is also aiming to be the first to supply certified sustainable palm derivatives.

While many firms have committed to sourcing fully traceable, certified sustainable palm oil, this option is only currently available for straight palm oil (which most food manufacturers do not use) and not for derivatives such as olein and stearin, fractions of olein and stearin, palm kernel oil (PKO) or PKO derivatives.

However, New Britain Palm Oil, which aims to start processing palm oil at a new £18M refinery in Liverpool from April 2010, says it will also be able to offer refined palm olein, refined palm stearin and refined palm kernel oil “in the initial nine months” of operation, and refined palm mid-fractions from early 2011.
The firm, which recently struck a deal to supply palm oil to United Biscuits, said other (undisclosed) customers had also signed up to receive supplies from next year.
Director Andy Worrall acknowledged that, right now, the GreenPalm​ certificate trading scheme was the only affordable option for food manufacturers that used palm fractions, but claimed that “where it is possible to do so, consumers want products to physically contain palm oil that can be traced back to sustainable sources”.
He added: “This is what we’re going to offer and we’re going to do it in an affordable way.”
By purchasing GreenPalm certificates guaranteeing that a tonnage of palm oil/derivatives equivalent to the tonnage they use has been produced from sustainable sources, food manufacturers can help boost sustainable palm oil production. Under the scheme, plantations are allocated one certificate for every sustainably produced tonne of oil. These are being traded at www.greenpalm.org
However, purchasers are not able to guarantee that the actual palm oil they are using in their products is itself from a sustainable source, said Worrall. “Our research tells us that consumers don’t really want certificate offset schemes for palm oil which - although they might give a sustainable producer a ‘pat on the back’ equating to $5/t [the price at which GreenPalm certificates are currently trading] - also keep the UK market ‘open for business’ for unsustainable producers.”
The fact that GreenPalm certificates were trading at such a low price (around $5-6) was a potential concern, he said, “We’re just not sure that a 1% premium will in fact continue to stimulate expansion of sustainable palm oil supply.”
However, Judith Murdoch, marketing boss at palm supplier AAK, said that while the price might seem low per certificate/tonne, it still amounted to a “significant amount of money” and a “strong incentive to participate in GreenPalm” for plantation owners given that many produced thousands or even hundreds of thousands of tonnes of palm oil.
* For an analysis of the issues surrounding sustainable palm oil production, see the January issue of Food Manufacture​.

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