The Nestlé logo on the company’s building in Mexico City. Picture: REUTERS
The Nestlé logo on the company’s building in Mexico City. Picture: REUTERS

Kuala Lumpur — Nestlé’s membership of industry watchdog the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has been suspended as the Swiss food group failed to submit a report detailing how it would ensure the use of certified sustainable palm oil, the RSPO has said.

The RSPO is a body of palm oil producers, consumer companies, and activist groups which provides sustainability certificates for the industry. Certification of environmentally sound behaviour is required by some major palm oil buyers in the West, including major food and confectionary makers, such as Unilever and Mars.

The suspension is effective from the announcement and extends to all Nestlé subsidiaries, according to an RSPO statement dated Wednesday.

RSPO members are required to specify their action taken over the previous 12 months each year, and plans for the coming year and the longer term on how they will produce or buy certified sustainable palm oil in a report.

"Nestlé has not submitted the report for 2016, and for 2017 submitted the report without a time-bound plan," RSPO said.

Nestlé, a big palm oil buyer, said in a statement on Thursday that it will continue its dialogue with the RSPO and hopes to requalify for membership in the near future.

Palm oil is the most widely used edible oil in the world, found in everything from margarine to cookies and from soap to soups. The industry has come under scrutiny in recent years, as it has been blamed for deforestation and forest fires which cause widespread haze.

"We share the RSPO’s ambition for improving the social and environmental performance of the palm oil sector," Nestlé said. "Our approaches to this do differ and we respect the RSPO board’s decision regarding Nestlé’s membership. We will continue our dialogue with RSPO and hope to re-qualify in the near future."