I write this as a question, but some are positing it as a statement.
Being no expert in anything, and not much of a jack of all trades either, I can’t pretend to know that much about palm oil.
I know some of the players, heard it debated at conferences,met a few executives, NGOs and other interested parties to discuss it, but aside from reading about it, that’s as far as it goes.
But I do know that product traceability is becoming ever more important to companies, particularly in the commodities business.
It’s no longer enough to say, in areas such as cotton for example: “It all comes from a big messy pool in the supply chain and we can’t find the source”.
Back in 2005 some companies said cotton couldn’t be traced back to producer nations such as Uzbekistan. Then, under pressure from campaigners and the media, they found it could. That’s not to say it was easy, but it could be done.
In palm oil, it’s been suggested to me by at least one leading figure in the forestry industry that palm oil certificate trading is unhelpful for companies who need to demonstrate they know and care where palm oil comes from.
The person I spoke to, who has a couple of decades experience in the field, reckons certificate trading is at odds with direct tracing of product origins.
According to him, the notion is being pushed by big commodities firms who, as middle men, have no interest in direct corporate supply chain tracing taking hold in the industry. It cuts them out of the loop.
As a result they are pushing certificates hard, and putting obstacles in the way of direct tracing.
Personally, I don’t know enough to form an opinion in this area as to whether that is true.
But it’s an interesting issue to raise, so here I am, raising it. That’s partly what this blog is for, among other things.
I’d be interested in reader comments on the above.
Has my contact got this wrong, or hit the money on the head? Or is it, like other sustainability issues, way more complicated than this?