Iceland Foods’ move to ban palm oil not enough
Iceland Foods’ palm oil ban to help curb deforestation will only work if big companies are in on it.
Researchers from the University of Kent, claimed that banning palm oil products could be viewed as a step backwards as creates very little change when compared to the larger scheme of things.
In a report from Eco Watch, Greenpeace UK’s executive director, John Sauven said that Major global companies, and not Iceland Foods alone, have the real power to exact change.
“Iceland buys 500 or 1000 tons of palm oil a year. Unilever between 1 and 1.5 million tons a year. If Unilever buys sustainable palm oil it’s a game changer. If Iceland does it changes very little,” he said.
Keith Hann, Iceland’s director of corporate affairs, said in an interview with Mongabay, that the company is not totally against Palm oil but “sustainable palm oil is currently available on the mass market,”
Although large corporations has joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the world’s largest association for ethical production of the commodity, the RSPO’s credibility has repeatedly been called into question. Most recently, a report alleges that an RSPO company cleared some 4,000 hectares of rainforest in Papua, Indonesia last year. That company supplies palm oil to Mars, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever.
Several NGOs including Greenpeace, WWF and the Orangutan Land Trust has forms the Palm Oil Innovation Group to compensate for the shortcomings of RSPO. To date, they have only verified two producers, Agropalma in Brazil, and Daabon in Columbia.
“Agropalma has four mills which produce around 115,000 tons of POIG oil annually,” Túlio Dias Brito, corporate social and environmental responsibility manager for Agropalma, told Mongabay. “Additionally, we produce around 10,000 tons of palm oil that is also Organic and Fair Trade Certified.”
However, because consumers and retailers are unwilling to pay the additional costs for responsibly produced oil, much of this gets dumped into the conventional market, leaving Agropalma to eat the costs. The sustainable oil premium is typically only 3-7 percent, while Organic and Fair Trade commands a 50 percent markup.