1 July 2021

Guideline on palm oil and palm kernel oil products

Many products contain palm or palm kernel oil, including food, cosmetics and cleaning agents. The amount of land needed to cultivate the oil palms to meet demand is one of the reasons for the clearing of tropical rainforests, and the cultivation of oil palms is associated with the exploitation of large numbers of people. In an effort to make the cultivation of oil palms more environmentally and socially responsible, the REWE Group is purchasing more sustainable palm oil products.


Palm oil and palm kernel oil are derived from the fruits of the oil palm; palm (kernel) oil derivatives are the result of subsequent chemical processes. Palm oil is useful for many products – it has a pleasant consistency and neutral taste; it has a very long shelf life; it is particularly high-yield and affordable. It is therefore no surprise that palm oil production, which takes place mainly in Indonesia and Malaysia, has tripled in just under 20 years. Working conditions, however, are frequently inhumane. In many cases wages are below subsistence levels and tied to unreasonable quotas; violence, discrimination, child labour, forced labour and land theft are significant problems. Deforestation and slash-and-burn farming rob endangered animals of their habitats, while accelerating global warming. In its purchases of palm oil products, the REWE Group is determined to curb or prevent altogether such negative effects.

Our goals

The objective of the REWE Group is to improve social, environmental and economic conditions in the countries where oil palms are cultivated. When purchasing products for its brands that contain palm oil, it is therefore committed to choosing palm oil products that are certified under various supply-chain models. For pure, refined and non-refined palm and palm kernel oil, its purchases must meet at least the Segregation standard, which stipulates that all of the oil used must be certified. As for fractions and derivatives, the company’s purchases must comply at least with the Mass Balance supply-chain model, which permits the mixing of certified and uncertified palm and palm kernel oils.

Our measures

With regard to the certification of palm oil products for its own brands, the REWE Group utilises the certification systems recognised by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – preferably that of RSPO itself. These systems require plantations to comply with applicable laws, prohibit child and forced labour, include small farmers, and fulfil additional social requirements. They also set minimum environmental standards. For example, plantations must not be located on primary forest land or peat soil, slash-and-burn farming is prohibited, endangered animal and plant species must be protected, and with few exceptions highly dangerous pesticides are banned.