The Future of Palm

Sustainable supply chains and thriving communities are reshaping perceptions of this controversial ingredient and encouraging much-needed transparency.

Despite its land efficiency and potential as a truly eco-friendly crop, palm oil also has a history of harmful environmental practices.

Luckily, responsible suppliers are stepping up to offer a solution: palm oil cultivated with an eye to the environment and the farmers who grow it. Palm’s story is no longer just about what has happened in Southeast Asia; suppliers worldwide are helping to rewrite its future.

What have you heard about palm oil?

Chances are, you’ve heard conflicting information—and for good reason. Suppliers of the ingredient have a variety of approaches, meaning not all palm is created equal.

Some suppliers have a history of harmful deforestation practices that destroyed animal habitats.

Others have unfair labor practices.

Suppliers provide fairly paid employment.

They make full use of palm as a versatile ingredient.

They have a sustainable model that’s good to the environment and communities that produce palm.

Today, there is a better way to approach palm, and the future of the ingredient is looking much different from its past. Responsible suppliers and nonprofit organizations alike are working toward sourcing sustainable palm that’s better for the environment and farming communities worldwide.

Support responsible palm oil sourcing by following DaabonUSA.

On the health front, palm oil packs a positive punch

Vitamins A, D, E, K to support overall well-being and immunity

Phytosterols to support healthy cholesterol levels

Carotenoids to support eye health

CoQ10 to support brain and heart health

50%

unsaturated fatty acids

Healthy alternative to harmful trans fats

Palm oil is so ubiquitous because it's versatile and affordable.

If you look in your pantry or your bathroom, you’ll find products containing the ingredient. It’s great for baking and frying, and thanks to its neutral taste and smell, it can be used in many products–from nut butters to spreads, baked goods, chocolate and confectionery products and more. It’s also a natural preservative, which means fewer chemicals are needed in a product’s formulation, and is used in various personal care products.

To learn more about palm oil health benefits follow DaabonUSA.
However, many still wonder:

Should we eliminate palm production?

Considering what an efficient plant palm is, replacing it with another kind of vegetable oil such as sunflower, soybean or canola oil would actually require a larger footprint, not to mention put millions of farmers’ livelihood at risk.

“Oil palm requires the lowest input for energy, fertilizer and pesticides per ton of production. A boycott would remove support for the millions of people who work in the palm oil industry.” 

Alexis Hatto, from Sustainability Policy Transparency Toolkit (SPOTT). A free online platform supporting sustainable commodity production and trade.

Soybean vs. Palm

In terms of crop yields, palm is uber efficient, yielding more oil on the same amount of land than any other oil crop (four to ten times more than alternatives such as soy, sunflower or canola oils). Our comparisons to the left show how much more resource intensive soy production is than palm production.

Watch to learn how the Rainforest Alliance is working toward a more sustainable supply chain.

Seals & certifications that instill trust in the industry.

In order to validate sustainability efforts, a number of certifying bodies have stepped up to help suppliers be as responsible as possible and have a tremendous positive impact.

USDA ORGANIC

Limits pesticides and other chemical inputs; supports soil fertility; leverages compost, animal manures and green manures; means non-GMO.

FAIR TRADE

Supports fair wages; empowers producers in their communities; prohibits use of the most harmful chemicals.

RAINFOREST ALLIANCE CERTIFIED

Focuses on initiatives that help improve the livelihoods of oil palm farmers; protects natural resources; supports workers’ rights; educates farmers; promotes healthy soil and habitats.

ROUNDTABLE ON SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL (RSPO)

Protects forests, ecosystems and communities where palm production occurs; reduces fires and pesticides; supports workers’ rights; consults communities before plantation development.

“We ask about the supplier’s own policies. If it’s not public on their website or not sharable with the buyer, that’s a red flag. The purpose of their policy is to be held accountable and it should be transparent.”

– Nicole Pasricha, Manager of Markets Transformation at Rainforest Alliance


That’s one job per 10 acres.

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Year-round harvest for year-round income.

In the areas that grow it, millions of farmers and their families depend on palm. Halting demand of palm in favor of another plant would put these families’ livelihoods in immediate jeopardy. Plus, eliminating the demand for sustainable palm deprives these farmers of the opportunity to adopt sustainable business models that can transform their lives for the better. Further, boycotts eliminate demand for sustainable practices. If responsible companies boycott palm oil, production will not cease. Rather, producers will sell oil to markets that don’t value the environment or farmers.

Where we get palm matters

Palm oil is resourced 15° from the equator. Sourcing from certain parts of the world such as South America is part of the solution.

Colombia is helping to redefine what palm production can be. The country already has a sustainable palm model that can be replicated worldwide.

Daabon, a 100-year-old family-owned company, has been growing palm and producing organic and sustainable palm oil in Colombia for more than two generations.

Its supply chain is completely vertically integrated, which ensures full traceability for responsible brands and products, and supports the land on which it is grown and the people who produce it.

Daabon also believes that it is critical to support positive change and growth on a national level; to foster peace and encourage prosperity in the country it calls home. For the last 50 years, the Colombian farmlands have been the main stage of armed conflict, leaving many people directly affected by violence and loss. A peace treaty was recently signed, and yet there is much to heal, as people from both sides begin to live together and work side by side despite the tumultuous history shared between them. Daabon is encouraging a process of peaceful reintegration through programs on its farms for its workers, but also in the local communities (through school programs, support of cultural dance groups and other initiatives) in an effort to support peace in a productive and meaningful way.

“Sustainability is respect for all forms of life. Working with nature, and never against it.”

– Patricia Apreza, Director of Social Management, Daabon

To learn more about sustainable palm oil follow DaabonUSA.

Watch to explore the ways in which sustainable palm supports community and fuels happiness.

Sustainability is a key component of Daabon’s corporate mission.

The company considers social responsibility to be another key aspect of its responsible business model. For example, it supports many family farmers, teaching them how to grow palm in addition to their other crops (such as fruit and cacao), and supporting them in attaining third-party certifications, which allows them to earn a premium through access to international markets. 

With his father and brother, Manuel Torres cultivates 14 acres of palm on their plot. Their family farm grows everything organically, and the palm adds welcome income. There are hundreds of other family farmers with similar stories. 

Daabon farmer Manuel Torres discusses his commitment to do-good palm.

The path to sustainability isn’t always easy, but it is definitely possible.

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