Full Traceability Is Possible

Published on: October 10, 2022

As palm oil supply chains are complex with many actors involved, traceability is important to assess risks. It becomes even more important with the European Council’s agreed mandatory due diligence rules to tackle deforestation “for all operators and traders who place, make available or export the following products from the EU marketpalm oil, beef, timber, coffee, cocoa and soy”.

Tracing back ingredients to its source is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The goal is to drive impact on the ground: preventing deforestation and habitat loss, and ensuring rights are respected. A lot of efforts have been put into supply chain mapping. It remains challenging though, to get a full overview of the networks that make up a supply hub.

We provide full traceability in our supply chain. Here is how we do it and why.

Ensuring clean ingredients
Traceability is the ability to identify and follow the movement of a product’s ingredient through all stages of production, processing, and distribution. It means knowing the sources of your ingredients, and where and how a product was produced. Through our traceability system, we offer manufacturers, retailers and consumers full transparency around where and how their ingredients and products are produced.

We care a lot about it because we believe it is a prerequisite for realizing progress on sustainability and ensuring products are deforestation and exploitation free. Knowing where ingredients are sourced is the only way to guarantee ‘clean’ products and understanding the impact of our actions on people and the environment throughout our supply chain.

Registering every step
We provide full transparency by governing and registering every step in our supply chain, from the farms that produce the palm fruit we use to the markets where we supply our ingredients and products.

To ensure full transparency we have built an integrated supply chain from farm to fork. We know all the farmers in our supply network and understand their businesses and practices. We operate our own mill and are strategically aligned with our processor, which means they work according to our strict specifications. As well as this, we actively collaborate with the manufacturers and retailers that service their customers. Knowing exactly what is going on at every step of our supply chain allows us to intervene immediately when necessary.

We use certification standards that support the full traceability of our ingredients. By following the Identity Preserved systems of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), we make sure that a single identifiable certified source is kept separate from conventional palm oil throughout the supply chain.

The first mile
Traceability to the mill level is improving, which is good progress. Palm oil’s ‘first mile’ traceability remains a challenge — the ‘first mile’ is the initial segment of a supply chain, where the harvested crop is transferred from the farm to a local processor or distributor.

Smallholders hold approximately 40% of the total oil palm plantation areas and their businesses are often off the grid and hard to trace. Since practices in this ‘first mile’ have a significant impact on social and environmental challenges, we need to know what is happening on the farm level.

Tracing all the way back to the source farms and farmers is foundational for us as it is the only way to manage to the circumstances under which the palm fruit we use was grown and harvested.

Demand insights
In order to understand the impact we are making throughout our supply chains we need to have the insights on the micro level. We can do it, yet it requires time, efforts, money, and collaboration. When markets demand source farm insights and go beyond pure risk mitigation, full transparency is possible.

Written by Monique van WijnbergenNatural Habitat’s Sustainability & Corporate Communications Director and spokesperson for Palm Done Right


Why You Should Get Involved
with Palm Done Right

Palm can be grown for good, bringing benefits to:

  • Our planet, due to palm oil’s land efficiency.
  • Local communities, due to the economic development oil palm production creates.
  • Our market, due to palm oil’s versatility and functionality as an ingredient, lifting product quality and performance.

Together, we can influence change for:

  • Manufacturers that are still using conflict palm oil for their products.
  • Retailers that are still listing products that contain conflict palm oil.
  • Brokers and distributors that are still supplying their customers with products that contain conflict palm oil.
  • Shoppers that have the power to vote with their dollar.

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