Iceland supermarkets has become the first British supermarket chain to stop using palm oil in its own-brand products.
Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil extracted from the fruit of oil palm trees. However, demand for the product has made it one of the biggest causes of deforestation, posing a threat to several species already facing extinction – such as the orangutan and Sumatran tiger.
The oil’s production has reportedly been the reason for around 8% of the world’s deforestation between 1990 and 2008. The ingredient can be found in products sold in almost all UK supermarkets, from staple food items such as bread to shampoo, soaps and other products.
Iceland’s ban only applies to its own-brand products. Other products that the supermarket chain sells may still contain palm oil.
“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,” said Richard Walker, Iceland Managing Director.
According to a statement on the Iceland supermarkets website, the retailer’s head chef Neil Nugent has been working in the Iceland development kitchen “to remove and replace palm oil” in its own brand food lines with oils and fats “that do not destroy the rainforest.”
“We are also working closely with our trusted suppliers to ensure that changes to our recipes do not impact the cost (or taste) of our own brand products. These efforts reduce the demand for palm oil by more than 500 tonnes per year,” the retailer said.