Palm oil

Iceland’s banning palm oil from its own-brand products

The supermarket, not the country

Iceland (the supermarket, not the country) has pledged to ban palm oil from all its products. It will be the first supermarket to do so.

What it means: Palm oil is in almost everything, from soap, to peanut butter, to biscuits. According to Iceland, palm oil is currently in more than half its own brand products.

Campaigners say that palm oil is responsible for the destruction of rainforests around the world. But it's cheap, and mass-produced, which makes it a useful ingredient for supermarkets to make food cheaply.

The problem with palm oil is in what goes on in the 'supply chain'. Although some companies will say they're committed to using 'sustainable' palm oil, products are bought and sold so many times before they get put into the food we eat, it's pretty difficult to be 100 per cent sure where that ingredient has come from. That's why Iceland is going for a no-nonsense approach and getting rid of it totally.

Iceland has said that cutting palm oil will increase its costs, but it won't pass that cost onto consumers by making products more expensive. Instead, they've decided to shoulder it, putting values before profit. But there's also another side to that story: as consumers get more and more aware of environmental issues, campaigns are calling for them to boycott companies with a bad environmental record. Being seen to be care about the environment is becoming good for business.

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