It is thought that palm oil is represented in around 50% of packaged food goods, and thanks to eu legislation in 2011, companies must state in their ingredients not only that they are using vegetable oil, but to specify which type. However it is still possible for palm oil usage to be disguised using terms such as:
Palm oil kernel, palmitate, cocoa butter equivalent (CBE), cocoa butter substitute (CBS), palm olein and palm stearin.
If terms such as the above are used, there is a fair chance that their attempts to disguise their use of palm oil will equate to them not using a sustainable source of palm oil. Sadly most companies don’t advertise clearly that they use palm oil from sustainable sources and as such it can be difficult to make an informed decision.
This is however a subject which we are passionate about and as such in 2018 changed our policy to actively seek out documentation from all of our food suppliers to be able to trace our palm oil usage.
As a result we are able to confidently claim that as of 2018 our catering facilities use sustainably sourced and certified palm oil in 100% of our products.
Why not boycott palm oil altogether?
It is thought that throughout the whole of Europe we only account for around 11% of the global palm oil usage and experts believe that as a result, a European boycott of palm oil as an ingredient would have little to no effect on global production. However it is possible that even if a boycott had an effect on the global production of this ingredient that it would not be the effect we would all want.
Whilst it is true that palm oil is the reason why millions of hectares of rainforest and other animal habitats have been decimated, it is also true that as far as vegetable oil production goes, palm oil has a fairly high yield per plantation. If growers were forced to stop pal oil production they would inevitably move to one of the other vegetable oil types such as sunflower, rapeseed or soya, which in many cases would require the felling of even more trees to produce the same amount of oil.
Sadly we are in a predicament which is forcing us to compromise in order to ensure that our usage of palm oil has the least detrimental effect possible.
What is the WWP procurement policy?
Whilst we have already done a complete audit of our current suppliers, all future suppliers will need to be vetted before we start to stock their products. The most common and advanced certification body for palm oil sustainability is the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) which requires its members to adhere to strict principles and criteria, which can be seen on their website @ www.rspo.org/certification
However, this certification process applies more to the direct user of the product itself rather than a third party using an ingredient produced by one of these members. In these cases, it becomes difficult to research their sustainability status.
An example of this is the Wicked Cake company who do not directly import and use palm oil, however some of the ingredients which they do use (such as margarine) do contain palm oil. In such instances the company must be approached directly and asked to supply any relevant certification which they may have about their own procurement of palm oil based or containing ingredients.
The above procurement policy however does not only apply to food items in the catering section, but also to food items which are to be fed to animals, along with any other non-food sundries which we may use in our day to day work. It is our pledge, where possible to also be using only sustainable palm oil in non catering food departments and non food products by 2019, however we are already conducting these reviews of our current products, with positive results so far.
Is boycotting non-sustainable palm oil enough?
No it is not.
As with so many aspects of our work, it is great that we are engaging with these principles, however without a public impact they are almost worthless. On our own we have little chance of creating a positive impact, however by spreading our message we can empower people to make their own decisions about the use of these products, and for them to take up the torch and spread this message.
To do this, we will first start up by making this policy easily available on our website and making our staff aware of this stance, allowing them to easily communicate it to the public.
By 2020, we will also produce literature at the park which will act as an educational tool to show people the impact of unsustainable palm oil harvesting and what they can do to help! In the mean time, try where you can to find products and suppliers using RSPO certified palm oil. Their members and associated certificates can be found on their website. Hopefully in the future, companies will make their certification status much better known to the public.
Future proofing our commitment
To ensure that we are able to continue our positive steps in this regard, the policy and vetting process will be revisited and where necessary updated / altered on a 2 yearly basis.