How did the supply of fair trade palm oil come about?
Traidcraft, pioneers of the UK fair trade movement and focused on commodities since the 1990s, connected with the US soap company Dr Bronners to bring fairly traded palm oil to the UK in 2014.
We had joined the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) to get our head around the issues, and talked to other members such as Greenpeace and WWF, who liked the idea but whose focus was on affecting the entire industry. I then went on a scoping visit to Ghana, where there are some large palm plantations, but not as huge as those in Indonesia and Malaysia. The majority of palm oil producers in Africa are smallholders who are generally intercropping (growing different crops together) rather than practising monoculture. Michael Bronner, the president of Dr Bronners, says “All major commodity crops can be farmed sustainably or not”. They were already working with smallholders in Ghana to source organic palm oil and invited us to team up with them.