The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

How South East Asian Small Food Manufacturers Can Benefit from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

Food production is a complex and resource-intensive process, but the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a vital organization that helps ensure that manufacturers across the world adhere to sustainable practices when sourcing palm oil.

In this article, we’ll explore what the RSPO is, how it works and why it’s important for Southeast Asian food manufacturers to consider joining.

As the demand for sustainable palm oil continues to grow, small food manufacturers in South East Asia can reap countless benefits from being members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Introduction to The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is an international, not-for-profit organization that unites stakeholders from the palm oil industry to develop and implement standards for sustainable palm oil production. By working together, the RSPO aims to improve the lives of smallholder farmers, safeguard wildlife and restore damaged landscapes. In order to achieve its goals, the RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which all members must adhere to. These criteria are designed to promote best practices in sustainable palm oil production, with a particular focus on protecting human rights, safeguarding biodiversity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The RSPO provides a perfect platform for small food manufacturers to engage with the palm oil industry and learn about best practices in sustainable palm oil production. In addition, by becoming members of the RSPO, these manufacturers can show their commitment to sustainability and responsible sourcing. This is likely to be well received by consumers, who are increasingly interested in purchasing products that have been sourced ethically.

Overview of RSPO Sustainability Practices in South East Asia

The RSPO Principles are a set of guidelines that promote the sustainable production of palm oil. They were developed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and they cover a range of topics such as environmental protection, social responsibility, community relationships and economic viability.

The first step for every SME is to familiarize yourself with the RSPO Principles, and to start sourcing products from certified sustainable palm oil plantations. One way to do this is to source your palm oil from suppliers that are members of the RSPO. These suppliers have committed to producing palm oil according to the RSPO Principles, so you can be confident that their products meet these standards. You can find a list of RSPO member companies on the RSPO website.

Another way to ensure your products are sourced from certified sustainable palm oil plantations is to implement a traceability system. This system tracks the movement of palm oil from plantation to factory, so you can be sure that it comes from certified plantations. South East Asia has a large and growing market for palm oil. In addition, the region has a number of small food manufacturers who are increasingly interested in sustainable palm oil. RSPO certification guarantees that the palm oil used in products comes from certified sustainable sources.

Benefits of Adopting the RSPO Principles for Small Food Manufacturers

The adoption of the RSPO principles is vital for us, but other small food manufacturers can also have a number of benefits, including:

  1. Improved public image and reputation: by publicly committing to sustainable palm oil production, small food manufacturers can improve their image and reputation in the eyes of consumers, NGOs and other stakeholders. This can lead to increased sales and a competitive advantage over non-RSPO-certified products.
  2. Reduced environmental impact: RSPO-certified palm oil is produced using best practice methods that minimize deforestation, habitat loss and carbon emissions. As such, adopting the RSPO principles can help small food manufacturers reduce their environmental footprint. Many small food manufacturers are unaware of the origins of the palm oil used in their products. By sourcing certified sustainable palm oil, small food manufacturer can be sure that the palm oil they are using has been produced sustainably. Not only does this help to protect our rainforests and ecosystems, but it also supports the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who are paid a fair price for their crop.
  3. Enhanced social responsibility: by supporting sustainable palm oil production, small food manufacturers can demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility. This can play an important role in building trust with consumers and other stakeholders. Small food manufacturers in South East Asia can benefit from the RSPO principles, as they provide a framework for more sustainable palm oil production. The RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must meet in order to be certified as sustainable. This includes commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect forests and peatlands, uphold human rights, and provide economic benefits to communities.
  4. Cost savings: RSPO-certified palm oil is more expensive than non-certified oil, but adopting the principles can help small food manufacturers reduce their costs in the long run by avoiding any potential fines and reputation damage due to unethical or irresponsible sourcing practices.
  5. Reducing Reliance on Virgin Palm Oil: Small food manufacturers can reduce their reliance on virgin palm oil by using a mix of certified sustainable palm oil and other vegetable oils in their products. This will help to create a more sustainable supply of palm oil and encourage further investment in certified sustainable palm oil plantations.

Local Challenges and Opportunities

In recent years, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has been working to engage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the palm oil industry in Southeast Asia. While the RSPO has made great strides in reaching out to SMEs, there are still many challenges and opportunities for these businesses when it comes to sustainable palm oil.

One of the biggest challenges facing SMEs in Southeast Asia is a lack of awareness about the RSPO and its standards. Many small food manufacturers are not aware of the RSPO or its work to promote sustainable palm oil production. This lack of awareness can make it difficult for SMEs to make informed decisions about sourcing palm oil from RSPO-certified growers or using certified sustainable palm oil in their products.

Another challenge for SMEs is the cost of certified sustainable palm oil. Certified sustainable palm oil typically costs more than conventional palm oil, making it a financial challenge for small businesses to switch to sustainably sourced palm oil. Additionally, some small food manufacturers may not have access to the same volume discounts that larger companies receive when buying certified sustainable palm oil, further increasing the cost burden on these businesses.

Finally, many small food manufacturers rely on distributors or middlemen to source their Palm Oil. These distributors or middlemen may not be aware of certified sustainable sources of Palm Oil, or they may only offer conventional Palm Oil at a lower price point. This can make it hard for SMEs to implement changes.


The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is a great opportunity for South East Asian small food manufacturers to take advantage of. This initiative demonstrates that even with little financial capital or access to technical know-how, it is still possible for them to make an impact on environmental conservation efforts. Adhering to the RSPO principles can help small food manufacturers in South East Asia improve their sustainability credentials and access new markets. In particular, the RSPO certification provides an internationally recognized label that can give consumers confidence that products contain palm oil that has been produced sustainably. This not only helps to protect the environment, but also sends a strong message to customers that your brand is committed to sustainability. Moreover, by adhering to the RSPO principles, small food manufacturers can foster better relationships with suppliers, government agencies and NGOs working on palm oil issues. Ultimately, it has the potential to inspire other businesses in the region and ultimately create a more sustainable future.

We don’t use animal fats in our production line. Our options are currently palm oil, coconut oil and rice bran oil. Of the three, palm oil and rice bran oil are actually the most efficient to produce. Using rice bran oil puts the least strain on resources, and it also carries excellent cooking properties. Rice Bran Oil is used for the majority of our products. In case we use palm oil, we will use the most ethical and sustainable palm oil possible, certified by the RSPO. This means it follows the highest agriculture standards, it is fully traceable, and grown on designated land that will not cause any further deforestation.

We’re a fully certified food manufacturing business based in Northern Bangkok, and we produce our own brands incl. a growing range of Ready-to-Eat products as well as plant-based products. We also do private label manufacturing for Australian, Thai and US companies. Let’s chat today and see how we can assist you.