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Iceland to remove palm oil from own label food by end of year

Iceland, a UK frozen food retail specialist, has announced that it will stop using palm oil as an ingredient in all its own label food by the end of 2018. Today it can report that the project is already well underway, with palm oil successfully removed from 50 percent of its own label range; 130 products will have been reformulated by the end of the year.

Crude palm oil (CPO) and other palm oil industry byproducts will be used to produce biobased dodecanedioic acid (DDDA) at the VerdePalm plant that has commenced construction in Malaysia (photo courtesy Gustav Melin).

UK frozen food retailer Iceland has announced that it is removing palm oil from all of its own label food by the end of 2018 to demonstrate to the food industry that it is possible to decrease demand (photo courtesy Gustav Melin).

Already this year, Iceland has brought out 100 new lines without palm oil, including the new summer range, and by the start of 2019 will have launched over 200 new lines that do not contain palm oil.

Citing recent reports on deforestation and orangutan population collapse, the company says that the growing demand for palm oil for use in food products, cosmetics and biodiesel is devastating tropical rainforests across South East Asia.

Furthermore, that it has made “this ethical decision” to remove palm oil in order to demonstrate to the food industry that it is possible to reduce the demand for palm oil whilst seeking solutions that do not destroy the world’s rainforest.

Until Iceland can guarantee palm oil is not causing rainforest destruction, we are simply saying ‘no to palm oil’. We don’t believe there is such a thing as guaranteed ‘sustainable’ palm oil available in the mass market, so we are giving consumers a choice to say no to palm for the first time, said Richard Walker, Managing Director, Iceland.

The Iceland no palm oil pledge is that by the end of 2018, 100 percent of the supermarket’s own label food lines will contain no palm oil, reducing demand for palm oil by more than 500 tonnes per year. According to the company, the response from Iceland’s own label suppliers to the no palm oil campaign has been “incredibly enthusiastic.

Having recently been to Indonesia and seen the environmental devastation caused by expanding palm oil production first hand, I feel passionately about the importance of raising awareness of this issue – and I know many British consumers share my concern and want to have a real choice about what they buy. This journey has shown me that, currently, no major supermarket or food manufacturer can substantiate any claim that the palm oil they use is truly sustainable, as the damage being caused to the global environment and communities in South East Asia is just too extensive, Walker said.

Prior to work beginning on this initiative, palm oil was present in 130 lines, accounting for approximately 10 percent of Iceland’s own label food. Alternatives to palm oil will include sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, and butter depending on individual product requirements.

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, commented John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK.

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