Majority of Singapore brands not transparent about palm oil usage: WWF

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Malaysia and Indonesia produce 85 per cent of the world’s palm oil. PHOTO: MAZIDI ABD GHANI/ WWF MALAYSIA

By Phyllis Lee

Two out of three Singapore brands are not transparent about their palm oil usage, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reported on Thursday (Sept 21).

Even worse, after 55 years of the haze – which is linked to unsustainable palm oil – 78 per cent of consumer brands in Singapore still do not source sustainable oil.

As part of WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard – Malaysia and Singapore 2017, WWF Singapore contacted 27 local companies in Singapore and asked them to disclose their palm oil usage. Only 10 companies responded.

The remaining 17 companies have been categorised as “non-respondent” and non-transparent in their palm oil usage.

Denis Asia Pacific, which uses only certified sustainable palm oil for its Ayam Brand canned food products, and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, which uses palm oil for cooking in its food and beverages outlets, were two of the companies who scored the highest in the report.

Similar to Singapore, only six out of 20 Malaysian companies responded to WWF’s queries.

According to the Scorecard, non-disclosure and lack of action were higher among brands in Singapore and Malaysia as compared to global brands, who had an 80 per cent response rate towards WWF and more than 60 per cent showing palm oil commitments.

WWF Singapore Chief Executive Officer Elaine Tan said: “Singapore is at the heart of a region that supplies 85 per cent of the world’s palm oil. Our local brands need to show leadership by being accountable for their palm oil use and take real action to source sustainably.”

Although brands cited internal factors such as capacity issues and higher costs as obstacles in the switch to sustainable palm oil, the report highlighted that current industry rates for sustainable palm oil options start at less than one cent more per litre.

While consumer demand plays a key role in sustainability decisions by brands, there is a perceived lack of demand for sustainable palm oil by customers in Singapore, the report added.

In response to these findings, WWF Singapore launched a campaign for consumers to show their support towards sustainable palm oil by sending emails to brands via palmoil.sg.

Since the launch of the campaign, Bee Cheng Hiang, Commonwealth Capital, Paradise Group Holdings, Super Group and Tung Lok have signed a pledge to begin their journey in sustainable palm oil.

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