SINGAPORE: Two out of three Singapore brands contacted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) did not respond to a request to disclose their palm oil usage, the non-governmental organisation said on Thursday (Sep 21).
As part of its Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard – Malaysia and Singapore 2017, WWF Singapore contacted 27 local retailers, manufacturers and food service brands with a survey to assess their buying and sourcing of palm oil.
The companies were selected based on criteria such as the use of palm oil, market leadership and crowd-sourced suggestions from members of the public, WWF Singapore said in a press release.
Only 10 companies responded. Companies which did not respond include BreadTalk, Crystal Jade, Bee Cheng Hiang, Dairy Farm, Khong Guan, Paradise Group, Tung Lok and Commonwealth Capital – which has stakes in brands like Soup Spoon, PastaMania and Udders. These companies were not given a score and were classified as "not transparent" in their palm oil usage.
Ayam Brand, which uses only certified sustainable palm oil for its canned food products, and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, which uses palm oil for cooking in its food and beverage outlets, scored highest in the report.
WWF also reached out to 20 Malaysian companies, of which six responded - a similar percentage to Singapore companies contacted.
The level of "non-discosure and lack of action" among brands in Singapore and Malaysia was higher than the global average, WWF said. While 30 per cent of brands in the region responded to the WWF survey and only three had public commitments on palm oil use, 80 per cent of global brands responded to the survey and more than 60 per cent had palm oil commitments.
WWF Singapore CEO Elaine Tan said unsustainable practices in the palm oil industry are at the root of the transboundary haze and deforestation.
"Singapore is at the heart of a region that supplies 85 per cent of the world’s palm oil. Our local brands need to show leadership by being accountable for their palm oil use and take real action to source sustainably,” she said.
According to WWF Singapore, brands cited internal factors such as capacity issues and higher costs as obstacles in the switch to sustainable palm oil, even though the additional cost of sustainable palm oil options start at less than S$0.01 more per litre.
There is also a perceived lack of demand for sustainable palm oil by customers in Singapore, it added.
In response to the findings, WWF-Singapore has launched a campaign to get consumers to pressure local brands on their use of palm oil, by sending emails to the companies via https://palmoil.sg.
Since the launch of the campaign, several companies including Bee Cheng Hiang, Tung Lok and Commonwealth Capital have signed a pledge to commit to sourcing for sustainable palm oil, WWF said.