MSPO Trace helps to protect and inform consumers and is a critical tool used across the entire palm oil product supply chain.

Policies being introduced in the European Union and other territories are seeking greater levels of traceability for both goods and raw commodities.

Malaysian palm oil is at the forefront of vegetable oil traceability, learning lessons from the country’s long history in developing and implementing sustainability and traceability systems for other commodities such as timber.

MSPO Trace became operational after its pilot testing phase in 2020. The Trace system is an accompaniment to the MSPO certification system, and it permits what is known as ‘traceability to plantation’ or TTP.

This allows the tracing of palm oil back to the mill and back to the plantation and fresh fruit bunches (FFBs).

The system is ingenious. It uses a great deal of existing data and identifiers that are already held by most farmers.

MSPO certification – which is mandatory – also requires all certified companies to record traceability information for their suppliers, and this information is registered and uploaded via an online compliance tool.

In other words, the system captures every palm oil transaction in Malaysia.

MSPO certified products are all provided with a unique identifier, which traces the product back to the plantation – and therefore to the FFB suppliers.

This information is made public via online platforms – and is also available via a mobile application.

One of the end goals is for consumers to be able to scan a QR code on a product and be presented immediately with a list of smallholders and plantations that produced the palm oil or palm kernel oil within the product.

This is an innovative and invaluable tool that might be considered the new ‘holy grail’ of traceability. It does not just reach the purchaser, processor and manufacturer level, it goes all the way to the end consumer.

MSPO Trace will go a long way to satisfying the regulatory requirements that will be in place for the EU’s Deforestation Regulation, where traceability is one of the core components of the new laws.