The Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAP) increases the share of certified palm oil and palm kernel oil

Project description

Title: Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAP)
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)
Co-funded by: The Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAM e.V.)
Country: Germany
Overall term: 2015 to 2021


Worldwide, nearly 74 million tonnes of palm oil were produced in 2019. That same year, palm oil consumption in Germany amounted to some 1.26 million tonnes. Owing to huge demand, the global oil palm planted area has risen more than tenfold since 1985. Today, oil palm plantations account for 23 million hectares of land worldwide. And there is no sign of an end to this growth: Indonesia alone is planning to extend its palm oil plantations to 20 million hectares by 2025.

Since oil palms grow exclusively in tropical climates, extensive areas of rainforest are being cleared to farm them. In 2019, slash-and-burn caused catastrophic forest fires that swathed large areas of Indonesia in smoke.

This is having a huge impact on biodiversity: the clearing of rainforests is one of the factors already threatening the survival of the orang-utan, the Sumatran tiger and the Javan rhinoceros, among numerous other animal species. In addition, oil palm cultivation frequently creates conflicts over land and land use between large companies and the local population.

To find a solution to these pressing problems and in response to global criticism of the practices deployed in oil palm cultivation, various sustainability standards have been developed in recent years to certify the production and use of sustainable palm oil. One such standard is the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). RSPO certification indicates that the production of palm oil has been environmentally friendly and that human rights and fair pay have been respected. The framework for this is provided by specific principles and criteria, for example prohibiting the clearance of further primary forests or areas of conservation value.

The Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAP), funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), was founded in 2013. Through the regular publication of studies such as the analysis of the palm oil sector in Germany, the organisation of international events at every stage in the palm oil supply chain, the FONAP smallholder project and the implementation of sourcing targets in line with the FONAP public commitment, FONAP sends clear signals to the producing countries and the public at large that German companies are assuming their responsibility in global supply chains and are improving social, economic and environmental conditions in the countries where oil palm is grown.


The share of certified palm oil and palm kernel oil on the German market has been increased significantly and is approaching the ultimate goal of 100 per cent.


The Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAP) comprises various stakeholders: companies, non-governmental organisations and policy-makers. It has around 50 members. Together, all the members define the challenges in their field of work and commit to using only sustainable palm oil.

In addition to their joint work in developing and implementing strategies, they stage events and communicate with the public on the issue of sustainable palm oil. 

For more than five years, FONAP has been committed to making palm oil farming in the countries of origin more sustainable. The aim is to increase the uptake of sustainable palm oil and to consider and act in accordance with human rights at all stages of the supply chain. Companies join the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAP) to address challenges such as compliance with their human rights due diligence obligations and issues of certification as part of a group – and not just within the company. FONAP members can participate in a number of different ways. These include discussions with one another at specialist events, participation in working groups or support for sustainable farming within the framework of a FONAP smallholder project in Malaysia. 


FONAP has set itself the goal of ensuring that only certified palm oil is used in Germany and aims to achieve this within the quickest possible time frame. To this end, FONAP works together with other European initiatives pursuing a similar objective.

It has succeeded in significantly raising the share of sustainable palm oil in Germany. While in 2013 only one in three tonnes used in the food, chemicals, animal feed and detergent industries was sustainable, this had risen to 55 per cent by 2017 and to 60 per cent by 2019. In the field of biofuels, such as the production of biodiesel, the use of sustainable palm oil is compulsory under European Union law. This resulted in an average consumption of sustainable palm oil of 83 per cent in Germany in 2019.

As at: March 2021

Additional information