Q&A with Anna Bykowska

Tropical oil trade manager

What steps has ADM taken in recent years to advance its commitment to sustainable palm oil?
As we have increased our participation in the growing global palm oil marketplace, we’ve worked to help establish a more sustainable supply chain for palm — one that can accommodate market demand while respecting biodiversity, the environment and human rights.

We began trading certified sustainable palm oil in 2009. Then in 2010, audits of our European palm oil production facilities conducted by RSPO-endorsed certification bodies confirmed that these operations were in compliance with the Roundtable’s supply chain standards. Because the certification process covers every aspect of our operations — from the purchase of the raw materials to the delivery of finished product — a great deal of effort and resources was needed to obtain this distinction. Our teams did a tremendous job of preparing the plants for these exacting audits.

In 2011, our sustainable palm oil business grew steadily as a result of our marketing efforts over the prior two years. We initially offered only a few products under the RSPO supply chain certification scheme, but we have broadened our portfolio to include various blends of laurics, soft oils and palm fractions. Now, we can offer all of our palm oil and palm kernel oil blends under the mass balance scheme, in which RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil is mixed with oil from other sources.  Doing so allows companies to claim that their products contribute to the production of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil.

Our European plants now are in the process of undergoing a second round of audits with a view to expanding the scope of our certification and enabling our plants to supply segregated sustainable product to customers.

How are we working with RSPO to help create a more sustainable palm oil supply chain? 

We have played an active role in the organization’s greenhouse gas emissions working groups, and I personally am participating in the “Trade and Traceability” working group, which deals with supply chain certification issues. Our participation in those forums enables us to share our extensive knowledge and experience with the broader RSPO community, and to help ensure that certification schemes are carefully designed to reflect the needs and interests of stakeholders throughout the supply chain.

Other than making more certified sustainable products available, what are we doing to help our customers meet their commitments to source certified sustainable oil?
In order to be able to trade sustainable palm oil and to put a claim to this effect on their products, our customers need to undergo the RSPO certification process themselves. So we regularly organize training for all ADM colleagues involved in certified sustainable palm oil operations to keep them updated on the latest developments in this area. That way, our sales teams can share this information with customers and help them complete the RSPO audits successfully.


Anna Bykowska first joined ADM in 2002 as an intern after completing her master’s degree in international trade and political relations at the Poznań University of Economics in Poznań, Poland. She was subsequently hired to develop trading and hedging strategies for various agricultural products. Today, she purchases tropical oils for the company’s operations in Noblee and Thoerl, Germany, and performs various market analysis and risk-management functions for the company. As part of her role, she is active in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, and in helping ADM chart a course for further improving the integrity of its palm supply chain.


Bykowska: “We’ve worked to help establish a more sustainable supply chain for palm—one that can accommodate market demand while respecting biodiversity, the environment and human rights.” 

Bio: Anna Bykowska
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