There is a growing need for the sustainable production of vegetable oils on a global scale, one of the key ingredients in our daily life. Palm oil, the most consumed vegetable oil in the world, leads the pack as a sustainable agricultural product to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and also contributes to agricultural development, security food, nutrition, sustainable food production and biodiversity conservation in producing and consuming countries.
Palm oil contributes to 11 SDGs, the most important among all vegetable oils in the world, according to a study called “Global Environmental Change”. Reports have also shown that the palm oil industry has met 65 percent of its “no-deforestation commitments”, while other edible oils lag significantly behind.
Palm oil producing countries have made significant efforts to ensure sustainable production and the progress made on this front is commendable. Currently, palm oil is the only vegetable oil in the world to have mandatory and voluntary sustainability certification programs. To ensure sustainable palm oil production, mandatory certification programs such as Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) and Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) play an important role in meeting the sustainability requirements of consumers. buyers all over the world.
According to a study called “Criteria for Effective Zero-deforestation Commitments” from “Global Environmental Change”, palm oil contributes to 11 SDGs, the most important among all vegetable oils in the world. Reports have also shown that the palm oil industry has met 65 percent of its “no-deforestation commitments”, while other edible oils lag significantly behind.
India’s initiative to develop its own standards for sustainable palm oil based on Indian laws, practices and market realities with alignment with global sustainability principles has great potential. The initiative, the Indian Palm Oil Sustainability (IPOS) framework which was created for the Indian palm oil industry by Indian palm oil stakeholders, includes the Indian Association of Solvent Extractors ( SEA) and the Society for the Promotion of Research and Development of Oil Palm. as well as the global non-profit organization Solidaridad. India and other major consuming countries should strengthen their cooperation with producing countries on palm oil sustainability standards in line with ISPO, MSPO and IPOS standards.
Major consumer countries have a crucial role to play in ensuring the sustainable use of palm oil. Asia is the fastest growing palm oil market, responsible for two-thirds of global consumption, with India at the top of the rankings. Its affordable price makes it the preferred edible oil import for India which ranks as the largest importer of palm oil by volume. According to Indexmundi, India’s domestic consumption has grown by 181 percent over the past two decades, with the country consuming nearly 8.8 million tonnes in 2020, 93 percent of which was used for cooking and baking.
Palm oil is the most affordable edible oil in the world due to its high-yielding properties that require less land for production. Highlighting the contribution of palm oil to meeting the needs of an ever-growing world population, a recent study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said that palm oil contributes nearly 40 percent of the current global vegetable oil supply although it occupies only about 5.5 percent of the total global oilseed area (between 21.5 and 23.4 million hectares), which is the least compared to other oil crops in the world.
The United Nations Sustainable Food Day aims to promote sustainable eating practices around the world. Reports have shown that palm oil is one of the most salient, healthy, and long-lasting ingredients found in most food products. Nutritionally, various studies have shown that the saturated fats found in palm oil are not harmful to the heart if consumed in moderate amounts. Vitamin E found in palm oil has been shown to benefit humans and is extracted and sold as an expensive supplement for heart and brain health. In addition to its vitamin E content, palm oil is also a food source with a high level of vitamin A. Many studies have shown that palm oil is the richest natural vegetable source in the world of carotene. , also known as provitamin A.
Sustainable gastronomy takes into account the origin of key ingredients, the way food is grown, its arrival on the markets and finally on our plates. On this World Sustainable Gastronomy Day, I urge all stakeholders to take a step forward in ensuring sustainable practices across all food industry supply chains. There is no doubt that the palm oil sector is setting an example for all other vegetable oils in meeting sustainability standards.
– The author, Dr Yusof Basiron, is Executive Director of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries. Opinions expressed are personal
(Edited by : Ajay Vaishnav)