How can stakeholders turn Singapore into a sustainable palm oil hub?

As an economic powerhouse in Asia, Singapore has the potential to be a leader in sustainable palm oil in line with the Green Plan 2030 agenda.           

SINGAPORE, 30 September 2021 —The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore today released its palm oil report In the palm of Singapore’s hand - advancing the sustainable palm oil agendawhich highlights the central position that Singapore occupies in the global palm oil sector, and provides actionable recommendations for stakeholders to accelerate the transition to a more responsible and sustainable  palm oil industry hub out of Singapore.  

As Singapore focuses on sustainable development with the Green Plan 2030[1], the report underscores the opportunities for key palm oil stakeholders operating in Singapore — buyers, traders, financial institutions and the government — to become powerful catalysts that enable the transition to a more sustainable palm oil industry.

The report highlights that while some Singapore companies are leading the way, many have yet to make commitments on the use of sustainable palm oil. Today, only an estimated 10% of palm oil consumed in Singapore is RSPO-certified.[2]

The report also finds that there are untapped opportunities for engagement with local palm oil buyers from sectors such as cosmetics, surfactants, pharmaceuticals and biofuels that have not been fully involved in the sustainability conversation. Many of the world’s largest palm oil trading companies are headquartered in Singapore and can lead by example by helping to secure strengthened commitments from suppliers and buyers, and contributing to an increased level of transparency.

Whilst Singapore banks and investors have started to develop sector policies and commitments, they can better leverage their influence over palm oil clients and investee companies to accelerate their transition towards sustainable practices. The Government can also play a leadership role in the region by adopting relevant regulatory measures that ensure that agricultural commodities are not linked to conversion and degradation of natural forests and natural ecosystems.

WWF-Singapore through SASPO helps businesses shift to sustainable sourcing practices by building knowledge and capacity. Businesses are encouraged to join the platform to build a sustainable future for the palm oil industry.

Said Stefanie Beitien, Head of Market Transformation at WWF-Singapore, “This report provides an overview of the improvements made by relevant industries in Singapore, but it also reveals linkages to unsustainable palm oil production and its associated risks — including deforestation and haze. We hope to inspire all actors with influence over the palm oil supply chain to take more ambitious steps. A move towards just and sustainable agriculture systems, in line with national and international commitments, will be beneficial to our economy, health and wellbeing as well as contribute significantly to combating climate change.”

The report is launched alongside WWF's Global Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard 2021 (POBS) which assessed 227 major retailers, consumer goods manufacturers and hospitality companies on their commitments and actions in favour of a sustainable palm oil industry. Out of the 46 Asian-headquartered companies assessed in the scorecard, Singapore companies Fraser and Neave (F&N) and Denis Asia Pacific (Ayam Brand) topped the list, and are ranked as “middle of the pack” globally. 

Hervé Simon, Group Marketing Director, Denis Asia Pacific (Ayam Brand), one of the SASPO founding members, added, “With an estimated 10% of consumed palm oil in Singapore RSPO-certified, the goal of 100% sustainable palm oil still seems far away and the report depicts a clear picture of all related issues. But Singapore is progressing in the right direction: The demand for sustainable palm oil is on the rise. The financial sector is working fast on implementing responsible financing as part of their ESG targets. Most importantly, a majority of consumers in Singapore are fully motivated to be part of the solution."


[1] Singapore government. 2021. Singapore Green Plan 2030. Available at: https://www.greenplan.gov.sg/ 

[2] WWF, 2021. Sustainable palm oil uptake in Asia: Where do we go from here? Available at: https://wwf.panda.org/discover/our_focus/food_practice/sustainable_production/palm_oil/news_updates/?3706416/Sustainable-palm-oil-uptake-in-Asia-Where-do-we-go-from-here

SASPO mentioned in WWF-SG article: Haze or not, fires are burning. It’s time for business ‘unusual’.

WWF-SG has published an opinion piece on the impacts of irresponsible palm oil production. This serves as a timely reminder that slash-and-burn practices are still ongoing, despite the lack of haze as a result of wetter weather conditions. SASPO is mentioned in the article as a support system towards sustainable palm oil production, alongside counterparts such as the India Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition (I-SPOC) and the China Sustainable Palm Oil Alliance (CSPOA). Read more here.

SASPO members on par with global leaders in latest WWF Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard

SASPO congratulates its members for demonstrating leadership in the sustainable palm oil industry and setting a strong example for companies in Asia. Out of the 16 Asian companies assessed in the latest WWF Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard, SASPO members Denis Asia Pacific (Ayam Brand) and Fraser and Neave (F&N) have topped the list. They rank highly in the 75th and 50th percentile, respectively.

This puts them on par with top global brands in the rankings. The international scorecard assess how 173 brands are addressing the sustainability of their palm oil supply chain and their actions towards deforestation-free palm oil.

Notably, there is still a substantial number of companies from Asia that were non-respondent and/or have still made no commitments on sustainable palm oil. All of which, SASPO invites to join and start their journey towards sustainable sourcing and deforestation-free products.

SASPO is a voluntary, industry-led platform championing and working for sustainable palm oil in business supply chains. The alliance is the first business initiative in ASEAN focusing on sustainable palm oil. Through capacity building, workshops and educational resources, SASPO lowers the barriers for businesses to adopt sustainable sourcing policies. If you’d like to get involved, please contact the Secretariat at info@saspo.org.