The world has loads of sustainable palm oil… but no one wants it

The world’s biggest growers of palm oil say they’re stepping up efforts to produce the contentious commodity more sustainably, but consumers are unwilling to pay more for environmentally friendly supply.

Production of sustainable palm oil has jumped to a record 13.6 million metric tons a year, about 20 per cent of global output, according to the industry body that certifies the commodity. But only half of that is sold as sustainable oil. That’s because it’s more expensive to produce and hardly anyone is willing to pay a premium, says Sime Darby Plantation Bhd., the top planter by acreage.

“Buyers don’t want to pay for it,” Simon Lord, chief sustainability officer at Sime Darby, said from Kuala Lumpur. “There is increasing resentment among growers that the other actors in the supply chain are not stepping up.”

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