Premier colloque de l'Alliance : compte rendu des discussions

On Tuesday, 14 October 2014, the French Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil held the conference “Sustainable palm oil in 2015: myth or reality?”. The intent of this conference was to assess the nutritional and environmental issues related to palm oil.

Approximately one hundred people attended, including health/nutrition experts, NGO representatives, companies both within and outside the agrifood industry, distributors, refiners and representatives of producer countries.  Synopsis : Guillaume Reveilhac, President of the French Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil, and Frans Claassen, President of the European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA), discussed the rapid progress with which the Palm Oil sector is currently reorganising, particularly following the clear commitments made by both French and European companies.

Professor Bernard Guy-Grand, Coordinator of the assessment performed by the Fonds Français pour l’Alimentation et la Santé (French Fund for Food and Health) on palm oil, then addressed the health dimensions of palm oil, again stressing that there is no proven direct link between palm oil consumption and cardiovascular risk. (See his presentation)

A conference highlight: the CREDOC* presented the results of a study on the actual consumption of palm oil by the French. Pascale Hebel, Director of the CREDOC Consumption Department, presented the results of this major study of more than 2,000 people aged three and over.
The study shows that French consumption of palm oil averages 2.8 grams per day: products containing palm oil contribute, on average, only 4% of the saturated fatty acid intake by French adults, and 7% in children. These figures definitely put to rest the misconception that palm oil is one of the main contributors to saturated fatty acid intake.

Lastly, Dr Patrick Serog, a physician-nutritionist, connected this information to his daily practice by presenting four consumer profiles and concluding that palm oil is a minimal part of the French diet.

Environmental issues were then discussed in connection with two presentations: first, the subject of traceability was explored with Bastien Sachet, Director of the NGO The Forest Trust (TFT), and Mickael Blais, Sustainability Project Manager at Givaudan. Both spoke of the importance of traceability in sustainable production and of requiring European companies to commit to ensuring their entire palm oil supply is 100% traceable.

Next, sustainability criteria were the subject of a roundtable featuring Jean-Manuel Bluet, Sustainable Development Director at Nestlé France, Jerôme Frignet, Greenpeace’s Forest Campaign Manager, and Dr Basiron, President of the MPOC (Malaysian Palm Oil Council). A consensus was established on the importance of clearly defining areas to be protected, educating all stakeholders, including producer countries, and reiterating that these criteria are increasingly taken into consideration by the world’s international evaluation bodies. The example of the Greenpeace-Nestlé co-construction of a

sustainable supply chain served as a reminder that everyone has an important role in the industry’s evolution.

Lastly, Hubert Omont, Coordinator for the Tropical Supply Chains at CIRAD, concluded the event by bringing discussions back to the key issue around palm oil: the importance of addressing the food needs of nine billion people by 2050. From this standpoint, with unmatched productivity among the oilseeds, but also because of the industry’s efforts over the past decade, palm oil could set the standard for other industries.

You will find a full slideshow at the following link.

**Centre de Recherche pour l’Étude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie – the French Research Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions

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