Palm Oil

Palm oil is the main cause of the deforestation in Borneo, Malaysia and Indonesia’s forests.

According to, it has resulted in the loss of over 50,000 orangutans!

What is it?

It’s a vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of a type of palm tree.
Palm oil comes from the flesh. Palm Kernal comes from the husk and stone.

What’s it in?

Everything! Ok not quite everything but nearly…. 50% of all packaged products in the supermarket contain palm oil.
Chocolate, biscuits, bread, pizza, deodorant, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, lipstick, animal feed etc etc…. oh and biofuel (not in the UK though).
Here is a list of all the different names that Palm Oil can hide under.
There are also various apps for your phone that will allow you to scan and check products before you buy them.

Search “Happy Orangutan – palm oil” or “Palm Oil scanner” in your app browser.

Why is it bad?

Originally from Africa it is now grown in much of Asia. Producers have destroyed primary forests and rainforests to grow this crop throughout Indonesia and Malaysia.
Have you seen the images of orangutans starving or stuck up one last lonely tree? That is because of Palm oil production. Huge biodiverse forests have been replaced with mile upon mile of plantation. Famous mammals such as the Orangutan, Sumatran rhino and pygmy elephant have lost their homes but the knock on effect is much more than bringing these amazing animals closer to extinction. Carbon rich peat soil chucks out millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere and all wildlife from insects through to the famous mammals are dying.

Why is it used?

It is a very efficient crop compared to alternatives. We would need between 4 and 10 times more land to grow the equivalent amount of oil from alternative sources like Soy Bean or coconut.
It is also semi solid at room temperature which means it is loved by producers.

What can be done?

I’m a big believer in boycotting things I don’t agree with, but we need to face facts. We are huge demanders of oil. If not palm oil then it will be another product that used even more land somewhere else. Palm oil is a very efficient producer of oil. More so than any other plant.

Look for this RSPO logo that shows the palm oil in the product is from sustainable sources. The RSPO has been around since 2004 and has helped to change the way palm oil is produced.

Research has been done to see how much land can be given back to forests within a plantation that will help encourage jungle life to survive.

The UK has committed to having 100% of the palm oil used in the UK to be from sustainable sources. 78% of the total palm oil imported into the UK in 2016 was sustainable. We are getting there but we need to move quicker. And that doesn’t apply to goods produced overseas and imported…
Write letter to producers who use unsustainable palm oil asking them to change. If they hear it from their consumers they will listen quicker….

Palm Oil Free Alternatives

  • Biscuits – very few to choose from. Our favourites are Bahlsen and Lotus biscuits.
  • Choc Spread – Avoid Nutella.  Try Nature’s Store Hazelnut and Chocolate Spread (sustainable palm oil) from Sainsburys.

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