RSPO trademark, not much gain for growers: Gapki

4 June 2011 Science News

RSPO trademark, not much gain for growers: Gapki

Linda Yulisman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Kuala-Lumpur based Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil's (RSPO) recent issuance of a trademark for packaging and labels of certified palm oil products will not have significant benefits for palm oil producers, a local palm oil business association says.

Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki) chairman Fadhil Hasan said in Jakarta on Friday that the use of the new trademark would not push up prices of certified palm oil products as buyers were still reluctant to pay more for such products.

"The premium price for certified palm oil has been declining since its introduction several years ago. That's because only a few buyers are committed to buying palm oil at a higher price," he told The Jakarta Post in a phone interview.

Fadhil cited the price difference of certified and non-certified palm oil, which topped US$50 per ton in 2006 and plunged to $3 now due to smaller demands.

"The problem is not on the supply but the demand side. From the supply side, palm-oil producers have gradually complied with RSPO sustainable standards. So, we are demanding buyers' commitment to pay a premium price for certified palm oil," he added.

The RSPO, a body which sets up criteria for palm oil certification, recently released a trademark to be used on packaging and labels of palm oil products such as margarine, chocolate, biscuits, soap and cosmetics, to ensure producers' compliance with its sustainability standards.

The design of the trademark was unveiled during the 8th Roundtable Meeting of the body in November 2010 in Jakarta.

Currently, the RSPO is finalizing the rules regulating the use of the trademark and the procedure for applications. It is also registering the trademark in more than 60 countries worldwide.

RSPO secretary-general Darrel Webber said in a statement on Wednesday that the issuance of the trademark aimed to boost market demands for sustainable palm oil beside encouraging producers to meet its standards.

"The trademark will soon make it possible for consumers to make a well-informed choice for products containing sustainable palm oil. This would boost global demand which is important in view of the remarkable growth in the production of certified sustainable palm oil by growers in Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, West Africa, South America, etc.," Webber said.

RSPO president Jan Kees Vis, who is responsible for sustainable sourcing development with Unilever, the world's largest buyer of palm oil, voiced a similar view, saying that the trademark would play a key role in raising demands for certified palm oil.

RSPO estimates that the annual production capacity of RSPO-certified production units reached 4.2 million tons, or 9 percent of the world's palm oil production of 46 million tons.

Out of the RSPO-certified figure, 54 percent comes from Malaysia, followed by 35 percent from Indonesia, which is currently the world's largest palm oil producer with last year's output reaching 21 million tons.

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