Palm oil | wwf

Palm oil

Did you know that up to half of all products in the average Australian supermarket basket, such as baked goods, confectionery and cosmetics, contain palm oil?
A highly efficient and versatile oil, global production of palm oil has increased tenfold since 1980, driven largely by population growth, rising incomes and urbanisation. Conservative estimates see a further 50% growth by 2050.


The impacts of this rapid expansion of palm oil have been both negative and positive. On the one hand, palm oil can produce up to ten times the yield of alternative vegetable oils and has contributed to unprecedented economic growth in Southeast Asia. On the other hand, oil palm is a major driver of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, destroying the habitats of critically endangered species, displacing some local forest-dwelling communities and contributing to harmful climate change.

What WWF is doing

The problem is not palm oil itself; it’s where and how it is produced. Through WWF-Australia’s Market Transformation Initiative we are working to shift palm oil markets away from business as usual.

This involves a range of approaches:

  • Corporate engagement
WWF works with some of the most influential companies along palm oil supply chains to lead markets away from sources linked to deforestation, habitat loss and social conflict. We encourage palm oil buyers to source from suppliers who protect natural forests, respect community rights and provide a secure working environment.

  • Certification
WWF considers independent certification based on multi-stakeholder-negotiated standards to be a vital tool for promoting more responsible palm oil production. WWF works with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to develop strong safeguards and give consumers a choice of RSPO certified palm oil that is not linked to deforestation, habitat loss and social conflict.

  • Consumer awareness
Debates about palm oil can be confusing. To help consumers sift fact from fiction, WWF produces a biennial Palm Oil Scorecard, which benchmarks companies’ commitments and progress towards procuring sustainable palm oil. Our aim is to help consumers make more informed decisions.

  • Policy advocacy
Corporate commitments to sustainable palm oil should be rewarded and incentivised by government action. In producer countries, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, WWF encourages balanced land use planning policies, which prioritise palm oil plantations on degraded lands instead of natural forests.


Close-up of palm fruit waiting for transportation to the mill. 
	© James Morgan  / WWF-International
By 2016, at least 50% of all palm oil sold in Australia is certified sustainable.