Frozen food store Iceland has become the first major retailer in the UK to announce it will stop using palm oil in its products following pressure from campaign groups.
The palm oil industry has come under attack for causing deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in countries where it is produced.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area equivalent to the size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production in countries including Indonesia and Malaysia.
Iceland pledged to no longer use palm oil in any of its own brand food by the end of 2018, meaning 130 products will have been reformulated by the end of the year.
Bread to soap
Palm oil is currently found in half of all supermarket products, from bread to biscuits and breakfast cereal to soap. Alternatives include sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and butter.
It is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on earth, despite concerns about the effect its use can have on rainforests.
Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, said: “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 ‘sustainable’ palm oil available to retailers, so we are giving consumers a choice about what they buy for the first time.”
Iceland said it had found replacement recipes for around half of its products containing palm oil.
It also recently committed to remove plastic from all of its own label packaging by 2023.
In a recent survey, 85 per cent of British consumers who were informed of how it is produced said they do not think palm oil should be used in foods.
This article originally appeared in our sister title, iNews