photo: oneVillage Initiative via flickr
China's purchases of palm oil for use in, well, just about everything, account for one-third of global purchases so when the nation commits to greater support of sustainably produced palm oil you should pay attention. WWF reports that at the 2nd International Oil and Fats Summit (sounds exciting doesn't it...) China has pledged greater investment in sustainable palm oil in producing countries:There's no word on specific investments to be made, but some serious food and agriculture heavyweights endorsed the statement: Wilmar International, IOI Corporation, KLK Berhad, Kulim Malaysia Berhad, Premier Foods, and Unilever.
Since WWF helped set up the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil five years ago, it's natural that the majority of their statement on China's commitment talks about the advantages of sustainable palm oil—which there are, and compared to the normal method of plantation produced palm oil nearly anything is an improvement.
Consumer Demand Key for Sustainable Palm Oil Success
However, the thing that needs to be remembered—as WWF research has previously highlighted—is that there's an increasing supply of sustainable palm oil available on the market, but not too many people are buying it.
Without consumer support for sustainable palm oil, including paying the slight premium that it fetches, the whole thing could come crumbling down, with potentially devastating consequences for the biodiversity of Borneo (where the majority of palm oil is produced) and the orangutan in particular, as well as climate change due to increasing carbon emissions when carbon-storing rainforest is turned into oil palm plantation.
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