CEO: Promote use of sustainable palm oil

PETALING JAYA: Promoting the use of sustainable palm oil instead of boycotting it is the way forward, said United Plantations Bhd vice-­chairman and chief executive director Datuk Carl Bek-Nielsen (pic).

“Taking the easy way out, for example by boycotting the use of palm oil, is in my view not an option.

“Instead, we should all do justice to promote the use of sustainable palm oil. I can state that this is the way forward,” he said when contacted.

He was asked to comment on Plantation Industries and Commo­dities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong’s recent remarks that it was unethical for companies to use “No Palm Oil” labels on products but remain members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Mah had said companies must ensure that their actions were within the correct spirit and not just the technical letter of the rules.

Bek-Nielsen said the RSPO’s role was to promote the production and use of sustainable palm oil.

“At times, there have been issues that have tested the patience, tolerance and empathy of all multi-stakeholders across a very broad spectrum. I must state that the RSPO today has come a long way,” he said.

Bek-Nielsen added that the RSPO had managed to do one thing which no other certification body for palm oil had done before.

“In a sea of growing resentment against palm oil, the RSPO, through its high level of credibility, has provided growers and consumers with a lifeline.

“And this has helped them promote and maintain their customer base in these more sensitive markets, for instance in Europe.

“Let me make it very clear that much of this would not have been possible without the RSPO,” he said.

He noted that the RSPO had recently tightened its rules, ensuring that members could not claim that removing palm oil from a product is a socially or environmentally preferable choice without at least offering the use of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil as an alternative.