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by February 26, 2018 Athletic

SINGAPORE Ten more Singapore food and beverage (F&B) businesses have joined the Southeast Asia Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil (SASPO), tripling the number of members since its launch in 2016.

These companies – which include Crystal Jade, Bee Cheng Hiang and the parent company PastaMania and Udders Ice Cream – make up more than 80 brands and 200 F&B outlets across the country.

SASPO is the first private sector-led initiative in the Southeast Asia region to address the importance of sourcing for sustainable palm oil in a bid to tackle the haze issue, which has crippled the region in the past.

In 2015, raging forest fires in Indonesia caused by a combination of dry weather and slash-and-burn techniques to clear land sparked one of the worst haze crisis on record.

The haze caused the air quality in Singapore to turn hazardous, forcing the closure of schools and costing the economy an estimated S$700 million.

As a result, Singapore authorities in 2015 took action against companies believed to be behind the polluting fires, under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act.

We cannot resolve this issue without addressing the production of palm oil, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli at the announcement of SASPO’s new members on Monday (Feb 26).

But it is not about turning away from palm oil completely.

Out of the world’s palm oil production, 85 per cent is produced in this region.

The palm oil industry not only contributes about up to 2.5 per cent to Indonesia’s gross national product (GNP), but also is the fourth-largest GNP contributor in Malaysia.

The palm oil industry also supports the transition of many communities out of poverty, and significantly improves the livelihood of farmers, Masagos added.

He said that this is why Singapore supports the growth and success of a sustainable palm oil industry in the region, particularly as the demand for palm oil is expected to grow by 50 per cent by 2020.

The public has also sent signals to companies to use sustainable palm oil.

Most recently, a petition launched by two students to get food companies to make the switch garnered more than 8,000 signatures.

In 2017, a campaign led by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Singapore saw people in Singapore sending 60,000 emails to local brands to show their support for responsibly-sourced palm oil. — NNN-CNA \

Source: NAM News Network