The problem with palm oil?
The problem is not with palm oil itself, but is actually with the way the palm oil is produced. In West Africa, palm oil has been used for centuries as a cooking oil with no problem at all. The problem is that with the discovery of how amazingly well palm oil grows in the Far East, and that it is a very useful and cheap ingredient in commercial food production, palm oil is now in huge demand. Palm oil is now the most produced and traded oil, and now accounts for at least 75% of all the vegetable oil traded internationally.
The biggest use of the world’s palm oil is in food production, and at least one in ten products on supermarket shelves contain palm oil. Approximately six percent of the global supply is used in the cosmetic industry and palm oil is also increasingly being used as a fuel source.
This demand for plam oil is fueling deforestation in countries like Indonesia, forcing the indigenous people off their land and pushing animals like orangutans, elephants and tigers to the brink of extinction. The deforestation is so horrendous that Indonesia’s forests could be gone by 2015. Another huge impact on the environment is the amount of C02 emissions that are released when forests and peat land are destroyed to make way for these plantations.
So Let’s Stop Using It?
Well if it was only that simple. Unfortunately the palm oil production is a huge part of the economy of the countries that produce it like Malaysia and Indonesia. And as well as big businesses, there are also smallholders who produce a minimal amount of palm oil and rely on it to help support their families. The Rountable on Sustainable Palm Oil RSPO member and founders WWF have been campaigning about the fact the buyers (from companies right down to consumers) should insist on the buying and using of only sustinable plam oil. But what is not being talked about are the deals that go on alongside these campaigns that continues unsustainable/unethical plam oil production, so as a consumer what do we do?
As a consumer this is what you can do:
We only stock and/or make products that have RSPO certified palm oil or use alternatives to palm oil. And we have clear label ingredients so you know what you are buying.