Iceland will remove palm oil from own-label products

The global demand for palm oil is threatening orangutan populations in South East Asia
The global demand for palm oil is threatening orangutan populations in South East Asia

Frozen food and grocery retailer Iceland has announced its intention to cease using palm oil as an ingredient in any of its own-label products by the end of this year. Demand for the oil is driving deforestation and threatening wildlife in South East Asia.

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10 April 2018 | 0

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Frozen food retailer Iceland has announced its intention to cease using palm oil in all of its own-brand products, in order to help with the wildlife conservation and the fight against deforestation in South East Asia, where the oil originates.

According to the retailer, the project is already underway, with palm oil successfully removed from 50% of Iceland’s own-label products. A total of 130 products will have been reformulated by the end of the year, reducing demand for the material by an estimated 500 tonnes. Beginning in 2019, more than 200 new lines free of palm oil will be introduced to Iceland shelves, the company said.

Demand for palm oil for use in food products, cosmetics and biodiesel is devastating tropical rainforests across South-East Asia, where these habitats are being razed to make space for expanding palm oil and wood pulp plantations. Many species are facing extinction as a result, including the orangutan – already considered an endangered species. Orangutan numbers have more than halved since 1999, with less than 100,000 individuals remaining in the wild.

Deforestation also results in increased global carbon emissions. In 2014, Indonesia had the fourth largest greenhouse gas emissions, mostly as a result of deforestation.

“50% of all supermarket products, from ice cream and biscuits to detergent and lipstick, use palm oil because it is cheap and easy to use,” said Ron Metcalfe, MD of Iceland in Ireland. “As a result for this demand, an area of rainforest, the size of 146 football pitches is being destroyed every hour, devastating the local habitat.

“That is why Iceland has taken the ethical decision that we will remove palm oil from our own brand food until we can guarantee that it is not causing rainforest destruction,” Metcalfe said. “Until now, consumers have had no choice in the matter. But by simply saying ‘no to palm oil’, we are giving our customers the opportunity to do the same.”

Meanwhile, Iceland’s expansion plans are ongoing. The 22nd Irish store will open later this month in Portlaoise, with a further five stores planned for the rest of the year.

 

 

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