May 20, 2020

10 Singapore businesses commit to sustainable palm oil through SASPO

palm oil
3 min
10 Singapore businesses commit to sustainable palm oil through SASPO

10 local food and beverage businesses in Singapore have committed to the sustainable sourcing of palm oil.

The businesses will take steps toward responsible sourcing through the Southeast Asia Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil (SASPO), it was announced on Monday at SASPO’s Commitments to Sustainable Palm Oil event.

The 10 businesses make up 81 brands and 200 F&B outlets in Singapore, and as such the commitment triples the number of local businesses publicly committed to 100% sustainable palm oil.

The companies involved include Crystal Jane, F&N, Tung Lok, Bee Cheng Hiang, Commonwealth Capital Group, Compass, Delfi, Paradise Group, Super Group and Tong Seng Produce.

Commonwealth Capital Group has a vast portfolio including popular brands like PastaMania, Kraftwich, Swissbake and Udders Ice Cream. Commonwealth’s Group Managing Director Andrew Kwan stated: “Sustainable practise is not a corporate buzzword to acquire but a prerequisite for building global businesses in the long term. In this regard, we count it a privilege to help raise awareness amongst customers and in the market on the importance of growing businesses sustainably, together”.  

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SASPO says that issues related to unsustainable palm oil have dire impacts on biodiversity, but that businesses are becoming increasingly aware of sourcing it sustainably, while “palm oil remains the world’s most efficient and flexible oil; it is widely used in F&B, household and cosmetic products”.

Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and the UK have all committed to 100% sustainable palm oil by 2020, and Singapore is now on its way to joining them as leaders.

SASPO also says consumers are beginning to be more supportive of sustainable practises, citing a recent YouGov survey in which 56% of Singaporeans said they would be more likely to support companies with ethical supply chains. In a recent campaign by the WWF, 60,000 emails were sent by Singaporean consumers to local brands in support of sustainable palm oil.

At the SASPO Commitments to Sustainable Palm Oil event, the keynote address was delivered by Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. He praised the commitments of the companies and reiterated the impact unsustainable palm oil production is having on the planet.

“Transboundary haze pollution is a perennial problem in our region and elsewhere in the world… we cannot resolve this issue without addressing the production of palm oil,” said Zulkifli, adding that “if done in an irresponsible way, palm oil production can result in widespread deforestation, air pollution and carbon emissions resulting in climate change”.

He was also realistic about the significance of palm oil production to the Southeast Asian economy. “The palm oil sector brings important economic benefits to our region which produces 85% of the world’s palm oil. The palm oil sector contributes an estimated 2-2.5% of the GDP in Indonesia, and is the fourth largest contributor to the Gross National Income in Malaysia. The palm oil industry also supports the transition of many communities out of poverty and significantly improves the livelihood of farmers. Hence, Singapore supports the growth and success of a sustainable palm oil industry in our region.”

Of the 10 companies, Zulkifli added: “This is a milestone for the alliance and sends a strong signal that businesses in Singapore have started the transition towards 100% sustainable palm oil… we cannot expect changes overnight, but we can get there is everyone plays his or her part as a responsible consumer and business operator.”


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Jun 13, 2021

Seo JungJin: Who is EY’s World Entrepreneur of 2021?

Kate Birch
3 min
From just US$45,000 capital in 2003 to a world-leading biopharma giant with revenues of US$1.69bn today, Seo JungJin is crowned EY World Entrepreneur 2021

Seo JungJin, founder of biopharma firm Celltrion, which most recently developed an antibody treatment for COVID-19, has been named the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, becoming the first South Korean in the award’s 21-year history.

Regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year celebrates visionary and innovative leaders from across 60 countries who are transforming the world and fostering growth.

JungJin, who is now honoroary chairman of Celltrion Group, was up against a worthy cast of entrepreneurial competitors, taking the crown from among 45 award winners across 38 countries and territories.

Speaking during the virtual event, JungJin described his own interpretation of entrepreneurship as something that brings together “a group of people toward a common vision, embracing challenges as opportunities and committing oneself to contribute to the greater good”.

Why was JungJin crowned King Entrepreneur?

A South Korean native and now 63 years of age, JungJin founded biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion in 2003. In the nearly two decades since its founding, Celltrion has lived up to its goal of advancing health and welfare for all by developing ground-breaking drugs to treat autoimmune disease, various forms of cancer and, most recently, COVID-19.

The company, which JungJin started with just US$45,000 and five of his colleagues, has since growth to more than 2,1000 employees with sales permits in more than 90 countries and revenues exceeding US$1.69bn.

According to the panel, JungJin’s story is a shining example of the power of an unstoppable entrepreneur to change the world with the pandel moved by both his incredible story and his purpose-driven leadership, innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit.

Described by the chair of the EY judging panel Rosaleen Blair as “representing everything an unstoppable should be” from taking on the world’s biggest health care challenges to consistently creating long-term value for his company, JungJin’s story is one of incredible tenacity and perseverance that the judging panel felt most represented the entrepreneurial spirit.

“He’s taken breathtaking risks, both personal and professional, to found Celltrion and grow it into one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies,” says Stasia Mitchell, EY Global Entrepreneurship Leader. “His passion for creating affordable, life-saving health care and flair for tackling global problems has led to many treatments that have helped millions of people worldwide and was especially evident this past year through the creation of a COVID-19 antibody treatment.”

How did JungJin get there?

JungJin's entrepreneurial journey started at an early age when he worked as a taxi driver to get himself through Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea. After studying industrial engineering, he rose through the ranks of Daewoo Motor Co. before losing his job amid the carmaker’s financial troubles following the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

Following this, JungJin started collaborating with colleagues to explore business opportunities in different industries, though none delivered lasting success. The turning point came after he attended a talk hosted by renowned scholars, which inspired him to focus on the biopharmaceutical sector.

And so he founded Celltrion with just US$45,000 of his savings. The launch of Remsima, credited with being the world's first antibody biosimilar, quickly moved Celltrion up the ranks of the country's fairly underdeveloped pharmaceutical sector. Celltrion followed this success with the launch of drugs for breast cancer and lymphoma that today are being used worldwide.

With ambitions to be the world’s first in different areas, Celltrion has pioneered numerous uncharted areas to great success over the past two decades, most recently responding to the global pandemic by successfully developing an antibody treatment for COVID-19 and working to ensure a timely supply of the safe and effective treatment.

“When I first started, my vision was to help patients gain access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and thereby enhance the quality of people’s lives,” explains JungJin. “The success of Celltrion has enabled me to expand on this while finding new ways to fuel my entrepreneurial drive.”


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