Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), which manages more than 480,000 hectares of plantation, has completed the mapping of its supply chain which provides crude palm oil and palm kernels to eight separate processing facilities across Indonesia.

GAR’s head of global vegetable oil and oilseeds trading Paul Hickman said: “We see a clear industry trend where buyers want more information on the impact of the palm oil they purchase. Our customers can rely on GAR to continue improving the information available about our supply chain.

“If we can trace the oil back to its source we can engage more effectively with the suppliers and share what we have learned in our own operations to help them improve their environmental and social practices.”

The company’s two-year mapping project was completed with the support of environmental organisation The Forest Trust, which helps GAR support local suppliers struggling to adapt to sustainable practices. The project ensures that more than seven million tonnes of palm oil and kernels are sustainably sourced from GAR’s supply chain and mills.

GAR will now turn its efforts to the next phase of its supply chain mapping as it seeks to trace and support individual plantations. A time-bound plan is expected in the coming months.

Market pressure

Sourcing sustainable palm oil, produced with ethical practices, has become increasingly relevant, but also increasingly complex, as more and more high-profile companies pledge to source sustainable varieties of the oil.

Starbucks became the latest major brand to come under fire from campaign groups for its palm oil policy, with campaign groups urging consumers to boycott the coffee shop chain. Yum Brands – the parent-company of fast-food brands KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut – committed to 100% sustainable palm oil following a similar level of pressure from environmental activists.

Early last year, Sainsbury’s announced that it was sourcing 95% of its palm oil from certified sustainable suppliers. According to Government figures 93% of imported pure palm oil could come from sustainable sources, putting the UK close to a target of 100% that was meant to be hit by the end of 2015.

A new report from global risk advisory firm Verisk Maplecroft found that increasing supply chain traceability was among the most significant human rights issues effecting sustainability and CSR professionals.

Matt Mace

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