Iceland is the First UK Supermarket to Ditch Palm Oil

Shopping at Iceland now officially counts as a good deed...

Iceland is the First UK Supermarket to Ditch Palm Oil

by Sophie Jackson |
Published on

The growing campaign to cut palm oil from food products has just had a huge win: Iceland is now the first major UK supermarket to commit to dropping palm oil from all of their own brand products. The production of palm oil became a serious cause for concern around 2010, when demand seemed to increase dramatically. According to the European Palm Oil Alliance, we went from globally consuming 14.6 million tonnes of the stuff in 1995 to 61.1 million tonnes by 2015.

The trouble is that to produce the palm oil, large areas of land in South East Asia are being deforested. Trees are being burnt to the ground to make more space for crops that will produce palm oil. Not only is the environment suffering – all those forest fires are releasing enormous amounts of greenhouse gases – the orangutan population is suffering from the destruction of their natural habitat and orangutans are dying off.

Europe is one of the most significant palm oil consumers, which is why it is so important that UK supermarkets begin to take action. 71% of palm oil produced is used as an ingredient in food products. A number of food brands are already on board, including Divine Chocolate, Meridian, Kabuto Noodles, Rude Health and Vita Coco. Winning over supermarkets could have an even larger impact – Iceland’s decision alone will reduce the demand for palm oil by 500 tonnes a year. This does however raise the terrifying question of how much palm oil other major supermarkets are using, and how far we still have to go.

It is possible for palm oil to be produced ethically, but almost impossible to guarantee that our palm oil has come from land that wasn’t deforested for the purpose. John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK has commented on Iceland’s ethical stand: “Iceland has concluded that removing palm oil is the only way it can offer its customers a guarantee that its products do not contain palm oil from forest destruction. This decision is a direct response to the palm oil industry’s failure to clean up its act.”

85% of UK consumers now believe that palm oil should be removed from food products. Iceland is the first supermarket to rise to the challenge, and hopefully not the last.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophlynne

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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