Uncovering palm in consumer products

(C) WWF / Richard Stonehouse

Global estimates state that up to 50 to 68% of supermarket products contain palm oil. In August, SASPO and WWF-Singapore led a data collection survey in a local supermarket to estimate that number in Singapore. Volunteers helped to comb through ingredient lists and found 722 products* containing palm oil or a palm derivative, of which only a mere 1.7% were RSPO-certified.

Out of the 12 RSPO-certified products recorded, 8 were vegetable cooking oil products. The other 4 was made up of a sandwich spread and frozen foods. 

This exercise only scratched the surface of examining all products sold in a supermarket. However, it yields an important observation that palm oil and its derivatives are hidden and abundant in processed products. RSPO-certified products are also hard to find, with the exception of the cooking oil category.

Food and beverage outlets can begin their conversion to 100% sustainable palm oil through a stepwise approach and convert the lowest hanging fruit due to the abundance of supply in the Singapore market: cooking oil. Processed foods used by kitchens, such as condiments, bread, and emulsifiers will require a longer, meticulous approach. Such exercises will take at least a few years, and will require active support from upper management, communications, and procurement. 

SASPO is an industry-led platform, specifically geared towards working on these difficulties. If you and your procurement team require further training and knowledge building, or if you are interested in the raw data of this study, kindly contact the Secretariat at info@saspo.org for assistance. 

*This number is likely to be greater as not all aisles were surveyed.