Fontana (president of the Italian Union of Sustainable Palm Oil): “Italy third in the EU for certified companies, best practices for the EU and the world”
Palm oil regains consumer confidence, because food sustainability is a demonstrable and certified fact. And in this, Italy presents itself as best practice: it is the third country in Europe for the number of companies that use certified sustainable palm oil, practically all of the ingredients used are. A good test for the newly elected president of the Italian Sustainable Palm Oil Union, Mauro Fontana, who has clear ideas about the first actions to be implemented within the Union. There will be four and they aim at knowledge, information and networking, expanding it. Because progress has been made but there is still a long way to go.
“According to the latest publication of the Immagino Observatory dedicated to the study of claims and product sales, the claim ‘no palm oil’ is becoming less and less attractive and in the last year the market for these products has lost 0.5% in absolute order, equal to about 7% compared to the previous year – President Fontana explains to AdnKronos – Consumers are increasingly attracted to statements substantiated by facts about sustainability, social responsibility and ethics. Sustainable palm oil responds to this demand because scientific studies, including the study by the Cmcc (Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change), have shown how sustainable palm oil can intervene in a concrete, demonstrable and positive way on everything. the panorama of the 17 Sdgs (the sustainable development goals indicated by the UN, ed), from environmental sustainability to gender equality to the fight against hunger “.
In short, “a sustainable palm oil objectified by an independent certification, which analyzes all aspects, from the climatic one to the social and ethical one, can have a very high interest for the consumer who is looking for confirmation in this sense”.
Italy third in the EU for certified companies
Meanwhile, Italy is already showing an excellent result: it is the third country in Europe for the number of certified companies, “a success that is explained above all by the growing sensitivity of the consumer, and the companies are concerned with reassuring the consumer. In the food industry, to date, 95% of the palm oil used is Rspo certified, the other 5% has other certifications. Our food industry using certified sustainable palm oil is a best practice for Europe and for the world “.
How to recognize a sustainable product? We are helped by the logos of the certifications, such as that of the RSPO (The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), even if companies prefer to tell on their websites the choices and the sustainability path undertaken, the mechanisms that lead to the certification, the progress made on certifications such as the RSPO “which is not static but, like all level certifications, is continuously improved in its standards and objectives”, underlines Fontana.
Sustainable Palm Oil Union: four goals for the next three years
With these premises, Fontana identifies four main objectives for the next three years “to be pursued with determination”. First: broadening the knowledge of sustainable palm oil and all its positive prerogatives from a Sdgs perspective. Second: growing involvement of stakeholders, no longer just those who participate in the Sustainable Palm Oil Union today (i.e. trade associations participating in Confindustria, companies producing consumer goods, companies producing or transforming palm oil) but including organizations non-governmental, institutions, representatives of civil society, companies producing consumer goods not only food but also cosmetics, personal care and home, food and distribution chains. “An expansion that wants to transform the Union into a union of all the stakeholders interested in progress towards environmental and social sustainability”, underlines Fontana.
Third: to strengthen the association’s role as a privileged stakeholder for institutions and an authoritative and accredited source of information for the media. Fourth: to stimulate, through awareness-raising initiatives, the transition of the market towards full environmental, social and economic sustainability, in collaboration with institutions and NGOs. “These 4 points will, in my opinion, make our union more known and increase the number of participants”, says the president of the Italian Union of Sustainable Palm Oil.
A final word on food safety
If these are the objectives of the sustainable palm oil Union for the near future, already today a definitive word on the palm oil issue can be said and reiterated, and it concerns food safety, an aspect at the center of the debate unleashed a few years ago. .
“The European Commission has formalized limits such that it can be ensured that sustainable palm oil, and obviously also other fats, does not have problems from the point of view of food safety, and these limits are much more stringent than those indicated by the studies as potential health risks. These limits palm oil already complied with when the debate broke out: palm oil has no saturated fat content unlike other types of oil or fats, such as butter or lard. Obviously, it must be used in the correct quantities in the context of the weekly diet “, concludes Fontana.