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India’s Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing Is Almost Zero, Kamal Seth, Founder, Round Table For Palm Oil
"Indians are less sensitive to sustainability of Palm oil by perceiving it as a foreign issue," Bhavna, World Wildlife Fund
Photo Credit :
The session started with the many revelations like India's two-third of edible oil import is Palm oil and we are the largest importers of Palm oil in the world.
Nicole from Rainforest Alliance said millions of smallholder farmers are involved in Palm oil production. Rainforest Alliance is working to improve the condition of Palm grower's in Indonesia and Malaysia along with working in the supply chain to fill the gap in Palm oil sustainability operation in concern nations.
Kamal Seth of Roundtable for Palm gave holistic insights of the entire Palm oil industry where he said, “Uptake of sustainable Palm oil in India is almost zero”. There are though about one billion users of Palm oil in India, where many of them do not even know that they use it. Almost 10 million metric tonne of palm oil consumption in India is from soaps to lipstick to edible oil.
Vijay Mohan Director of Agriculture Trade Policy Decision in Ministry of Agriculture accepted that it's true we have never taken it as a priority for the import standards of Palm oil in India. Vijay though shared that universal citizenship is an Indian concept and we will definitely look into sustainability standards of Palm oil. Vijay also shared that Palm oil imports have doubled in the last five years in India.
Bhavna from World Wildlife Fund had shared that due to efforts of WWF, groups like Adani Wilmar and VVF LTD had agreed for 100 per cent sustainable Palm oil process and procurement at various levels by as soon as 2026.
Bhavna though said that Indians are less sensitive to sustainability of Palm oil by perceiving it as a foreign issue. She also shared a little threat which the palm oil producer nations’ have, in the form of not using Palm oil.
Vikas, sustainability head of Godrej group said that this oil is used in almost every space. While she accepted that deforestation in Indonesia or Malaysia is not going to be a major concern for Indians not because they are not sensitive towards this issue but because they have some huge issues of their own.
Harshal from Galaxy group which is a major manufacturer for many of the FMCG Giants in India shared how a certification from RSPO gave them an edge over others in the market, where value chain holds the key to final balance sheet management in various transactions especially when they have the certification for sustainability.
The panel came to a consensus that aggregators like Unilever or Wilmar or Nestle should come up with sustainability enabled in their operations in India, will let the others start following it.