Wednesday 26th October 2016                 Change text size:

How sustainable is your Christmas pudding?

Xmas pud - Jay Springnett via Flickr

A new survey has revealed that an increasing amount of seasonal foods use sustainably produced ingredients. However, some companies are still using palm oil that contributes to deforestation in Christmas puddings and other treats.

The Rainforest Foundation UK and Ethical Consumer magazine surveyed some of the biggest Christmas party food companies and assessed their use of palm oil and its derivatives. The Co-operative, Marks & Spencer, Premier Food and Waitrose all scored high in terms of ethics.

Simon Counsell, executive director of the Rainforest Foundation UK, said, “We commend the producers of Christmas party treats and have committed to reducing or using only sustainably sourced palm oil because by doing so, they are helping to ensure the long-term survival of Africa’s rainforests, its people and unique wildlife.”

The desire for palm oil has led to deforestation, particularly in Indonesia, but the impact has been expanding with plans putting the rainforests of the Congo Basin in Africa at risk.

Leonie Nimmo, researcher at Ethical Consumer, commented, “Our latest research shows that some companies have put their commitments to sustainable palm oil into practices and made significant changes in their supply chains.

“However, others, including Tesco, Asda and Cadbury still have a serious amount of work to do to address the issue across their global operations.”

Investigations have found that many palm oil companies claiming to be sustainable continue to destroy forests and displace local communities. This can make it difficult for consumers to ensure their purchases are ethical.

Investors and consumers are beginning to take greater interest in the sustainable production of palm oil. Consumer product company Unilever reported in April that its sustainable efforts, including sustainably sourcing palm oil, had boosted profits demonstrating the benefit to companies.

Further reading:

Investors told to steer clear of Indonesian palm oil firm

Palm oil giant Wilmar commits to sustainable sourcing

Unilever leads the way in aiming to use only ‘traceable’ palm oil

Investigation shows inconsistency among ‘sustainable’ palm oil in firms

Skincare companies under scrutiny over palm oil use

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