Palm oil: pros and cons
Rapunzel gladly and actively participates in the political and societal debate
An assessment by the Rapunzel managment
The interest in palm oil and the questioning of palm oil as an important raw material are in full progress. We appreciate that, because we would also support such a debate for other food products that are marketed in Europe. Where do the food products come from, how ecologic is their cultivation, what are the social conditions under which they are produced? How, where and by whom are they processed? How much of it is organic, how much is fair trade? How are prices being calculated?
In our opinion it was high time that customers, the public sector and producers started to discuss about such a popular raw material as palm oil. Exactly these critical questions are the pecularities that make our industry and our customers so unique. Hardly any other raw material in the world is treated so anonymously as conventionally produced palm oil. Most of the people who participate in that process chain have no interest in making the process chain more transparent. But why is that? That is exactly the question that we should ask in this context.
At Rapunzel, we refuse to take the easy path. We decided to defy the mainstream and to join in the reservations against everything that has to do with palm oil. On the contrary: we want to participate objectively and respectfully in the often indiscriminate discussion. In doing so, we also confront all problems and challenges that may actually be associated with the cultivation of palm trees. Frequent customer questions if orang-utans must also die for the production of our palm oil made it clear to us: we have to communicate more openly. Because there is a true alternative to today's widespread palm desaster - palm oil that is produced in a fair and environmentally responsible way. For us, this alternative is already normal and everyday business. Exactly therefore we should talk about it, participate in the discussion and provide firsthand, factual information.
When Rapunzel initiated the first organic palm oil cultivation project of the world in 1993, organic farming and alternative organic marketing proved that a totally transparent process chain is possible. The customer has the right to know where the raw material in the product that he bought came from. Today, this is referred to as "segregated palm oil", meaning palm oil with a defined origin that is 100 percent traceable. For us, this has always been a matter of fact, as this is the first step in taking responsibility for the cutivation conditions, the production and for sustainability as a producer. Without knowing where a product comes from, all this becomes irrelevant.
Recently, we organized several discussion events about palm oil with experts, producers, critics, NGOs and nutritional experts. With these discussions we wanted to substantiate the generalized perspective on this topic: what are the requirements for good (organic) palm cultivation? Which communication strategies are needed to communicate fair trade, organic palm oil in the stores? How can a customer find out what kind of palm oil is used in the manufacturing of products? What is special about Rapunzel's two organic palm oil projects? We are looking forward to this exciting discussion with the entire health food industry as we are convinced that it is worthwhile to actively take a stand for already existing, reasonable alternatives. Even if the issues are complicated and complex. We are looking forward to act in such a way also with respect to other critical topics. Because "organic" has always stood for developing alternatives and actively standing up for these alternatives in public.