Case study

CO-OP engage suppliers to ensure RSPO compliance

Co-op is committed to working with its suppliers to use sustainably sourced palm oil and derivatives within their own brand product ranges.

Co-op-RSPO-data Walmart-carbon-emissions-feature

At a glance

To help measure their performance against this commitment, Co-op worked with supplier collaboration experts Supply Pilot to undertake an extensive data collection campaign. The aim of the campaign was to understand which products supplied to them contain palm oil, palm kernel oil as well as other derivates and soy.


Food & Drink

Materially important issue

Palm oil

Step of the process
Platform elements used
Supply Chain Data Collection
Number of suppliers



100% response rate in 3 weeks


Supply Pilot used their expertise to work closely with us and tailor the data collection tool to get the information we needed, but in a way that was simple and intuitive for the suppliers to complete.

Sarah Wakefield Food Sustainability Manager, Co-op


Whilst there are environmental and social concerns relating to palm oil, it remains an important ingredient for the food industry. In 2004, a global multi-stakeholder initiative - the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) - was established to develop, deliver, and maintain a global market for sustainable palm oil, palm kernel oil, other derivates and soy.

In recognition of these concerns, and as a full member of the RSPO, Co-op Food acknowledges the need to use sustainable palm oil in its products as well as to understand the use of other similar oils. To achieve this, Co-op has ensured that all the palm oil in its own brand products is certified as sustainable under one of the RSPO certification schemes.

In 2011, Co-op achieved its goal of using 100% CSPO (Certified Sustainable Palm Oil) in its food products (and non-food by 2014) by purchasing GreenPalm certificates for any non-sustainable palm oil in its supply chain.

Co-op is worked towards having 100% segregated palm oil in all of its food products and non-food by 2020, whilst reducing its reliance on RSPO credits and Mass Balance where appropriate.

The Six-Step Process

Supply Pilot developed the Six-Step Process after over a decade of succeeding despite the complexity and scale of retailers and brands collaborating with their suppliers.

Collecting product level data for palm oil, soy, and derivatives from hundreds of suppliers over a large product portfolio is a brilliant application of the framework. This is because it is able to break down such a huge and complex task into manageable chunks - the end result being a high supplier response rate and therefore more complete data. 



Applying the Six-Step Process to RSPO 

Step one: Materially important issue

As a member of the RSPO, Co-op Food acknowledged the need to use sustainable oil palm in its products. As such, this was a materially important issue, meaning that the first step of the process had already been complete. Around half of our customers begin working with us at step two, having identified the important issues to their business and stakeholders internally.

Step two: Smart Goal

The aim of the project was to collect product level data from suppliers on palm oil, soy and derivatives information which would enable Co-op to report back to the RSPO. This included what percentage of each ingredient was in finished products, as well as product size and sales information.

Step three: Benchmark

The purpose of establishing a benchmark was to understand how well Co-op were currently performing against their SMART goal. Before the project could be properly underway, it was necessary to know how much detailed product data around palm oil Co-op had access to already. 

Supply Pilot's Campaign Team ran a supplier contact accuracy campaign to ensures that, when suppliers were asked to provide product level data about palm oil and its derivatives, it is sent to the right person within the their organisation. As part of this phase of the project, Supply Pilot also made sure that alongside communicating the regulatory requirements to suppliers, the purpose and importance of the project is also made clear. This helped suppliers understand the project’s significance and exactly what data Co-op needed from them. 

Typically retailer and brand supplier data is only 18% accurate. This low level of contact accuracy means that supply chain data collection exercises can be delayed by months whilst emails are sent to:

  • inactive inboxes
  • incorrect contacts
  • commercial contacts who don't have the appropriate level of knowledge or the right information to hand
Step four: Activation

Supply Pilot worked closely with the Co-op team to consult and implement an effective and easy-to-use data collection tool on the Supply Pilot Platform, which replaced the previous approach of manual spreadsheets. The platform automatically pre-populated known data for suppliers to make it much easier to submit accurate information in a timely manner.

“The tool is a positive step forward and really easy to use.”
- Cristina Ramsay, Allied Bakeries

The Supply Pilot Platform also monitored each interaction to see when emails are undelivered, opened, read, and further action is taken. The system also provides intelligent warnings and checks to reduce user error. It also linked to online supporting material and help around technical queries, with the option to ask a question if support is required.

Supply Pilot managed the entire process from the management of the data collection through to the final reporting back to the RSPO. Information was collected for 100% of the supplier base, who are all now engaged with the initiative and the new system.

Step five: Data-driven KPI

The Supply Pilot Platform provided supplier dashboards that showed what substance level product information had been provided by suppliers. This enabled Co-op to visualise progress and pull up reports automatically.  

Step six: Commercialisation

As well as capturing responses from over 350 suppliers, Supply Pilot identified over 75 new contacts for Co-op to engage with on sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil as well as other derivates and soy.

The solutions implemented by Supply Pilot enabled Co-op to collect all the data they needed to report back to the RSPO, as well as provide actionable information to drive improvements towards their 2020 goal.

This data collection project forms a base from which Co-op can continue to stand by their brand commitment to source more sustainable palm oil for their products. 

How the Supply Pilot Platform was used

Supply Chain Data Collection

The specific question requirements of the RSPO were integrated into the Supply Pilot Platform as a dedicated form. This included product level data on palm oil, soy, and derivatives alongside what percentage of each ingredient was in final products, as well as product size, and sales information. From this, tonnage information could then be automatically calculated on the supplier’s behalf.

Suppliers were also required to enter the certification type used in their products so that the tonnage could be split into oil types reported by RSPO. To support and validate their entries, suppliers were also required to upload any related certificates onto the platform. 

Online dashboards provided near real-time transparency of responses as they came in. This made it easy for Co-op to access supplier-specific information submitted and also visualise progress of the project as a whole.  


CO-OP engaged suppliers to collect product data for RSPO compliance.

350+ suppliers

were engaged and data from them was collected in just three weeks

1300+ products

were included in the data collection exercise

100% response rate

was achieved by Supply Pilot within the allocated timescale

75+ new contacts

within 4 months from the start of the project


We set a stretch goal to complete the collection within just a few weeks in January and Supply Pilot worked with us to ensure we hit our deadline and achieved responses from 100% of suppliers.

Sarah Wakefield Food Sustainability Manager, Co-op

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