Saving the Orangutans – Palm oil and sustainability

SPI Group participated in the Southern California IFT Section’s dinner meeting held at the Black Gold Golf Course clubhouse in Yerba Buena on Wednesday,February 15th. The venue was beautiful and it was nice to be in the company of so many familiar as well as new SCIFT members!
The event speaker was Mr. Maarten Goos, Market Development Manager, for the IOI Group of Loders Croklaan who talked convincingly about palm oil as being the most sustainable edible oil for the future. Maarten explained that over 80% of palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia and that once a young palm oil tree begins bearing fruit (the edible oil is in the fruit nut) at 6 or 7 years of age, that this tree will bear fruit year around for the next 25 years and that that its high yield up to 4.5 to 6 MT per hectare far outpaces other edible oil sources such as soybeans, rapeseed and canola at less than one MT per hectare (BTW, a hectare is 2.47 acres). In addition, since palm oil trees are so productive there remains enough arable land to provide cooking and processing oil for the foreseeable future without cutting down more rainforests if sustainable practices were enforced.
Maarten stressed that Loders Croklaan is heavily involved in RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) which is a joint effort by processors and ultimately consumers like Unilever to make one-half of the worldwide palm oil production from sustainable sources and practices by 2011. Though the message was definitely commercial, it felt good that companies were being thoughtful about their agricultural and edible oil processing practices for the living standards of both animals and humans.