Fuji Oil Group released its 2021 sustainability report today (22/10/2021). What makes this report unique is that the company has actually been a leader in sustainable food production for more than 70 years. In fact, the company recommended increasing the consumption of plant proteins as early as 1988.
“Fuji Oil has been focused on sustainable food development and plant-based protein alternatives since its inception,” said Carmen Alvarado Ascencio, senior manager ESG and leader of the sustainable development team for Fuji Europe Africa B.V. “We are proud to say we are simply continuing a tradition and a mindset that has been part of Fuji Oil since its very first day of operation.”
Alvarado Ascencio outlines two key Fuji Oil initiatives that deserve special attention this year. First, the company officially launched the Tebma-Kandu Sustainability Program. Tebma-Kandu means ‘push me and I’ll climb’ in Mampruli – a local language.
The programme enhances cooperatives’ ability to produce high-quality shea kernels while creating value for the communities in Ghana. “Previously, the most vulnerable women in Ghana collected shea kernels when no other work was possible,” Alvarado Ascencio explained. “But Tebma-Kandu eliminates the middlemen and empowers women with training and contracts that ensure they are paid fairly and that they receive pre-financing so that they are not dependent on fluctuations in the shea kernel business to survive. It also contributes to the elimination of child labour. To date, more than 20,000 women in Ghana have been offered a sustainable future through the programme.”
UniFuji: Partnership for progress
The second highlight is related to palm oil. In recent years, the issue of palm oil production – and its association with massive deforestation and forced labour – has made headlines. But the complete elimination of palm oil is not the best solution.
For years, Fuji Oil has been dedicated to the safe, sustainable production of palm oil, and the replacement with other oils whenever possible. Fuji Oil Holdings recently began a 50/50 partnership with United Plantations Bhd to create UniFuji: the first plant in the world to operate a 100% fossil-fuel-free, sustainable palm oil production facility that combines sustainable harvesting, refining and distribution of palm oil.
“Palm oil production has a vastly higher yield,” Alvarado Ascencio commented. “Replacing palm oil with other oil crops will not come without consequences if we have to fulfil the demands of our current economy. With UniFuji, we ensure that the harvesting and refining of palm oil do not contribute to deforestation, do not require new peatland development, and do not allow child or forced labour. This is an ideal way to ensure a sustainable palm oil future.”
In the past, Fuji Oil has played a behind-the-scenes role and has not been in the public eye outside its home market. But along with global growth, it has become more impactful in the western market.
It was founded in Japan in 1950 and today has nearly 6,000 employees spread across 14 countries and regions. The company focuses on plant-based food solutions produced under the highest standards. Tebma-Kandu and UniFuji are merely two of the countless programmes and initiatives that underpin Fuji Oil’s commitment to sustainable, plant-based food products.
Mikio Sakai, president and CEO of Fuji Oil Holdings said: “Now that achieving the UN SDGs is becoming increasingly important, we need to go back to our corporate roots, listen to the expectations and concerns of our stakeholders, and create a place where our employees can continue to work safely and securely. We will continue to work to protect and restore the Earth, place the joy of food and the happiness and wellbeing of all people at the heart of our management, and aim for sustainable growth.”
Takashi Kadota, chief ‘ESG’ officer of Fuji Oil Holdings added: “One of the Fuji Oil Group’s core values is ‘work for people’. But the word ‘people’ does not only mean individuals. It also means people’s livelihoods and the Earth as a whole, and is meant to convey our intent to serve the global community through business.”
More information is available in Fuji Oil’s sustainability report.
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