Fats distributors say red tape could prevent their sustainable palm oil products from carrying a new certification logo.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) logo can only be used by its members on products that contain palm-derived ingredients sourced in compliance with RSPO standards. Although the design was released last year, rules governing the use of the trademark have just been published.

While Bako distributes fats, it does not manufacture them, but even under the new rules it said it, too, would need RSPO approval. Fats buyer Frank Wade said he had wanted to put something on products about the fact they are sustainably sourced. "Our manufacturer Cardowan in Glasgow has taken the time to get itself approved by the RSPO, but that’s not good enough," said Wade. "We have to pay E2,000 to be on the RSPO’s books and would need to be audited, although we’re only transporting it. The system seems to be tied up with red tape. There’s nothing to stop us simply saying our products are fully sustainable I’m not sure we will bother [using the logo]."

BFP Wholesale is similarly affected, said MD Nick Harris. "We’re hanging fire and won’t be applying for certification until we get clarification. When Fairtrade started to be available, it was suggested that distributors needed to be registered, but that is only the case for some products."

However, an RSPO spokesman said a firm, such as a wholesaler, could distribute products made by an RSPO-certified manufacturer, who had used the RSPO logo on-pack, without themselves being certified. "The use of the RSPO trademark is subject to strict rules that are meant to protect the value of the trademark as well as the integrity and credibility of the RSPO." He said the membership came with obligations, but these were fundamental to the protection of the brand.