Sainsbury’s ban on the use of palm oil from unsustainable sources in its own-brand products has been given a cautious welcome by Greenpeace. The ingredient is used in thousands of the supermarket’s food products but is blamed for the destruction of tropical rainforests.
The environmental activist group says the move is a “positive first step” but that the issues surrounding the production of palm oil will only be solved when producers agree to stop destroying Indonesia’s rainforests to expand plantations.
Some environmentalists point out that a lack of segregation between oil from different plantations make it difficult for purchasers to be sure where oil is sourced and doubt Sainsbury’s capacity to source sufficient sustainable supplies.
The announcement from Sainsbury’s comes just two weeks after a Greenpeace report slammed major food manufacturers, including Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Kraft, for their part in clearing Indonesia’s tropical forests, calling them “climate vandals”.
The report, called “Cooking the Climate”, describes how companies are driving the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforest to make way for palm oil plantations. Indonesia has the fastest rate of deforestation of any major forested country.
Experts say that Sainsbury’s may plan to use palm oil from South American sources instead of Indonesia but that this strategy is problematic because it would mean that it continued to trade with the same global palm oil suppliers that are responsible for the destruction in Indonesia.
Greenpeace campaign manager Andy Tait says: “All retailers and food companies need to commit to stop trading with companies continuing to trash the rainforests and peatlands of Indonesia.”