Palm oil in Australia: facts, issues and challenges

Agriculture Sustainability Australia

This report, commissioned jointly by WWF-Australia and the Food and Grocery Council of Australia (AFGC), provides a broad, independent overview of the facts, issues and challenges surrounding palm oil, and is intended to provide a springboard for efforts to increase the supply of sustainable palm oil into the Australian market.

Executive Summary

A growing global population and changing diets, combined with the production efficiency of the oil palm and the unique properties and versatility of palm oil for both edible and non-edible uses, means that palm oil cultivation, processing and use will continue – and likely grow – in the decades ahead. Ensuring positive economic and social impacts are realised and environmental impacts are minimised is vital to achieve a palm oil industry that is sustainable for all.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is proving an effective mechanism to engage major stakeholders across the value chain in the pursuit of more sustainable production of palm oil. While it has already achieved certification of more than 10 per cent of current palm oil production, complimentary actions from governments, major buyers, and large processors are also necessary – the agenda for sustainable palm oil cannot be left to the RSPO alone.

Palm oil’s continued use in Australian grocery products and food service, while showing some evidence of declining, remains a contentious issue for Australian consumers and environmental advocacy groups, primarily due to the negative environmental impacts of palm oil cultivation. Many major Australian businesses have already made commitments to convert to using sustainable palm oil, yet significant work remains to fulfil these commitments. There are also opportunities for the Australian industry to be involved in projects in Indonesia, Malaysia and other palm oil producing countries in the region, given our geographic proximity.

This report provides a comprehensive snapshot and analysis of the palm oil sector that will be of use to industry, government and NGO decision makers. An understanding of the nature of the industry and the drivers for palm oil production and consumption will inform more effective solutions and the development of a more sustainable palm oil sector, with benefits for all along the value chain.


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