Lantmännen Unibake reviews the sustainability work of a Malaysian supplier
Every year Lantmännen Unibake uses thousands of tonnes of margarine in its Danish pastry production. The main ingredient is RSPO-certified segregated palm oil, making it a raw material of high strategic importance to the business.
Global Category Manager Kevin Cook has paid a visit to our palm oil supplier in Malaysia, one of the main palm-oil producing countries along with Indonesia.
“Palm oil has had very bad press due to slash-and-burn deforestation, which has been detrimental to wildlife. The aim of the visit was to see how our supplier works with wildlife conservation and environmental sustainability and to learn how palm oil fruit is grown and crushed,” he says.
R&D is increasing yield
The visit gave a positive impression. One important insight was the plantation’s commitment to increasing oil yield through research and development rather than by planting more trees. Another was the good working conditions of the staff, who proudly maintain the part of the plantation where they live with their families.
“This plantation and others like them are also trying to right the wrongs of the past by encouraging back wildlife. Along the riverbank, they have removed the oil palms and planted 150,000 trees since 2010. Part of the plantation has been turned into a wildlife sanctuary,” Kevin reports.
Convincing others to change
All the same, palm oil production as a whole is still far from perfect. Smallholders, in particular, need to change their practices. One way to convince them is if the owners of the crushing mills and refineries refuse to accept their palm fruit harvest for processing.
“Our supplier still buys from smallholders but on condition that they do not use slash-and-burn,” Kevin explains. “In return, the smallholders are given help to improve their yield. Our supplier expects to have incorporated all smallholders in its sustainability system by 2018.”