Demand for sustainable palm oil: are we conserving tropical biodiversity

Took place on 8 October 2013

Already present in over 50% of packaged products on the supermarket shelf and with a versatile range of uses from biscuits to biofuels, demand for the world’s most popular vegetable oil is growing. Oil palm has been touted as a ‘miracle crop’, which can produce five times the yield of other vegetable-oil crops and support economic growth in developing countries. However, it is best suited to moist tropical rainforest regions, which not only play a critical role in maintaining climate but also are the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems on earth. Although over 50 million tons of palm oil is traded annually, only 15% is voluntarily certified under the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and only half of this is sold at a premium owing to a lack of demand for the certified sustainable product. Thus there is little incentive for suppliers to improve on-the-ground practises or safeguard biodiversity. In addition, debate in the UK and other European countries has increasingly questioned both the volume of palm-oil consumption, and the credibility of sustainable palm oil with regards to conserving biodiversity and minimising deforestation. This event will include contributions from government, retail and manufacturing sectors, academics and other stakeholders, who will consider the challenges and issues of demand for palm oil and discuss options available to the UK consumer market.


The Agropalma Sustainability Program: is it the time to blow-up old bridges or build new ones?
Marcello Brito, Commercial and Sustainability Director, Agropalma

 Ensuring a sustainable palm oil supply (1.2 MB)
Neil la Croix, Associate Director of Sustainable Supply Chains, Mondeléz International

 Demand side measures to address palm oil, lessons to be learned from the timber sector (744 KB)
Saskia Ozinga, Campaign Coordinator, FERN

 UK Statement on Sustainable Palm Oil (432 KB)
Richard Mitchell, Resource, Atmosphere and Sustainability, Defra


Link to talks (via Soundcloud)



PDF icon 10 Oct 2013 Abstract (714.08 KB)

Further Information: please contact Megan Orpwood-Russell, Scientific Meetings Coordinator, Zoological Society of London, Regents Park, London NW1 4RY. 
Tel:+44 (0)20 7449 6227. Fax: +44 (0)20 7449 6411. E-mail: