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CONSEQUENCES OF THE UKRAINE WAR - TECHNICAL GUIDANCE

Certified sustainable palm oil

The goal of RSPO is to support the production and use of sustainable palm oil. Sustainable palm oil is an essential commodity for global food security, and we shall do what we can to continue to ensure its availability to those who need it.

In order to safeguard the long-term quality of our standards and the trust that our stakeholders have in the RSPO brand, we do not intend to deviate from any of them, particularly the RSPO Supply Chain Certification Standard. This operational guidance is meant to support our members to deal with the operational consequences they might be facing because of the war in Ukraine.

Due to the exceptional situation posed by the war in Ukraine, the market for sunflower oil is currently heavily disrupted. This disruption will most likely continue for the foreseeable future. In order to ensure the availability of day to day products for consumers worldwide, many companies are currently looking at viable alternatives to address the shortages in sunflower oil. As a result, we are witnessing a strong increase in the demand for palm oil. The RSPO encourages those producers who need to switch from sunflower oil to palm oil to do that in a responsible manner by working with certified sustainable palm oil. Below you will find guidance on how to achieve this.

For RSPO members

With regard to your sustainable sourcing policy:

  • Source RSPO certified sustainable palm oil, palm kernel oil, derivatives and ingredients following one of the four supply chain models; Identity Preserved (IP), Segregated (SG), Mass Balance (MB) or Book & Claim (RSPO Credits).

  • Consider downgrading material (from SG to MB) if there is shortage of SG material due to increased demand. MB ingredients are available for most palm oil based ingredients, with the overall supply currently being higher than the demand, you can find more here.

  • Consider the purchase of conventional palm oil, covered by RSPO Credits and Independent Smallholder (ISH) Credits. RSPO Credits are available for most palm oil based ingredients. You can find more information here.

  • Consider other essential deviations from your sustainable sourcing policy, where necessary and communicate about this openly and transparently to your stakeholders. Communicate if you switch from sunflower to palm oil to your stakeholders. The war in Ukraine is likely to be accepted as a force majeur and by chosing sustainable palm oil your company also demonstrates its commitment towards causes such as ending deforestation, preventing child labour, and improving livelihoods of those in producing countries. 

With regard to your supply chain certification:

  • Verify the validity of RSPO Supply Chain Certificates of your suppliers and in case of doubts, please contact certification@rspo.org. Some certification bodies have ceased physical activities in Russia and the Ukraine for safety and reputational reasons, so this may affect the renewal of existing certificates.

  • RSPO has received a decision by ASI to temporarily stop any accreditation process in Russia until further notice. This also means that ASI has temporarily stopped any activity for Initial Audits as well as new extension audit scope in Russia. However, this decision will not affect the certification validity and trade of existing Certificate Holders.

  • For our members in the affected regions who need to renew their certificates, the license period cycle can always be extended through the Palm Trace by request only. This request for a time extension needs to be submitted by the certification bodies and requires approval from RSPO.

  • We are contacting certification bodies in Europe to encourage them to check with their clients if any of them needs further support. Should a member know that it needs a time extension and be able to contact the certification body they should do that as soon as possible so the certification body can get in touch with RSPO.

  • RSPO also has a system in place for certification bodies to conduct audits remotely where they find necessary.

With regard to on pack claims and use of the RSPO Trademark:

  • Consider that if only minor ingredients are not available: SG claims on pack (Trademark use on pack) can still be made if more than 95% of the palm oil content is SG and the use of MB or conventional ingredients can be justified and are covered by RSPO Credits.

  • Consider MODULE C – PARTIAL ON PACK PRODUCT CLAIMS (page 18)

  • For on pack claims (Trademark use on pack) we understand that changing this immediately may not be possible; a temporary exemption could be strictly reviewed in case by case and may be approved by the RSPO Secretariat and needs to be documented appropriately. Companies are required to contact their Certification Body and RSPO via certification@rspo.org.

  • Engage with suppliers which are not yet RSPO members and Supply Chain Certified (see following part)

For non-RSPO members

Internal actions

  • Identify where palm oil is present as an ingredient or where it has been used as a replacement in the current shortage of other oils.

  • Map your supplier or co-packer and check if they handle products that already contain certified sustainable palm oil. This can only be guaranteed if they are an RSPO member and RSPO Supply Chain Certified. All RSPO Supply Chain Certificate Holders can be found online.

  • Draft a sustainable palm oil sourcing policy. At RSPO we are ready to support you and explain the options you have.

  • Communicate your switch to sustainable palm oil transparently to your stakeholders. The war in Ukraine is likely to be accepted as a force majeur and by chosing sustainable palm oil your company also demonstrates its commitment towards causes such as ending deforestation, preventing child labour, and improving livelihood of those in producing countries.

  • Make sure that your revised sourcing policy (including sustainable palm oil) does not conflict with previous claims, such as no-palm claims. You can find more information on the Rules on Market Communications and Claims here.

Administrative actions towards RSPO:

  • Apply for Membership of RSPO

  • Contact the Membership team via membership@rspo.org. The application process for Membership to the RSPO usually takes 4 to 6 weeks when submission is complete and payment is done in time.

  • Check in parallel the availability of an accredited Certifcation Body  to proceed with Supply Chain Certification as soon as the Membership number comes through. There is no fast track for certification. Supply chain certification can be done relatively quickly depending on the availability of the auditors. One average the audit takes one day (depending on the scope of certification single/multisite).

If you need any further technical guidance on RSPO Supply Chain Certification in Europe or related issues as a consequence of the war in Ukraine please contact the RSPO Assurance Manager Europe at divya.bajpai@rspo.org.