The Challenge

Fats and oils are an essential part of a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet for both humans and livestock. But the way we’re producing and consuming fats and oils is clearly unsustainable.

Declining biodiversity, competition for land, climate change, water stress, and human rights abuses in the supply chain are some of the many challenges surrounding the production of edible fats and oils. There are also consumption and nutritional challenges: Poor diets have resulted in a double burden of malnutrition and obesity. People eating the right fats and oils, in the right quantities, is a critical part of responding to this public health challenge.


There is little widespread understanding about how the different industrial fats and oils stack up against each other in environmental, social but also nutritional terms. Instead, public debate is often simplified and polarised into “good vs bad” fats and oils, with palm oil receiving the most scrutiny specifically for its association with deforestation and other environmental impacts. But it’s not that simple.

Download the Case for Action on Edible Fats and Oils

Our Solution

No single crop holds all the answers to the multiple complex challenges facing this sector. Paying attention to the whole system of edible fats and oils is critical to responding adequately and we are inviting actors from across the value chain to join us in the Edible Fats and Oils Collaboration.

This three-year, global multi-stakeholder initiative is focused on accelerating the sustainable production and use of edible fats and oils.

We will develop a holistic framework for assessing the sustainability profile of different fats and oils. This will promote a shared understanding of how the different fats and oils compare against each other in terms of environmental and social impacts, nutritional profile, and the physical properties which might make one more appropriate for a certain usage compared to another. Our analysis will involve mapping major edible fats and oils against that framework, as well as identifying the key alternative innovations and their market potential, from algae- to yeast-based oils.

Our ambition is to share these insights widely amongst industry and other key stakeholders, and use them as part of workstreams with key influencers, in order to:

  • inform the sourcing and formulation practices of major food brands and retailers;
  • identify and get commitment around investment policies and reporting mechanisms which will accelerate sustainable fats and oils production;
  • provide recommendations for exemplar policies that can support a step-change in the sustainability of edible fats and oils.

Together we will develop a better understanding of the sustainability and nutritional profiles of fats and oils, shift industry practice, shape investment policies and legislation, and help bring new innovations to scale.

Benefits of joining

There are multiple benefits for organisations that take part in this collaboration:

  • Risk mitigation and increased resilience, through improved policies and strategy.
  • Access deeper insights and build stronger relationships around sustainable fats and oils, helping develop a leadership position.
  • Gain insights into nascent products and technologies in the edible fats and oils system, helping foster innovation and realise new business opportunities.
  • Shape investment policies that support sustainable outcomes in fats and oils
  • Better collaboration and engagement, that shapes more impactful, future-proofed policy and legislation around fats and oils sourcing and use.
  • A more engaged and motivated workforce, proud to be contributing to a more sustainable system.

Download the insights and trends shaping the future of edible fats and oils

Join us

Forum for the Future, M&S, Volac-Wilmar and WWF are inviting organisations to join the Edible Fats and Oils Collaboration.

The collaboration is open to food and agricultural companies from across the supply chain, together with NGOs, investors and policymakers.

To find out more contact  Associate Director, Forum for the Future UK: 

Ivana Gazibara

Who’s involved

Hazel Culley, Marks & Spencer says:

“M&S has been working on the sustainability challenges surrounding palm oil for many years but over recent years we have seen increased use of other oils whether that be for reasons of health, diet, or functionality. Many of these oils have equally complex supply chains and we want to ensure that that there are no unintended consequences of switching or developing new formulations and are therefore supporting the Edible Fats and Oils Collaboration as we cannot address these issues on our own and would like to work with others to do so.”