Palm Oil Action Group commend Woolworths’ interest in the palm oil issue

Palm Oil Action Group Media Release: 6 October 2009

Wednesday 30th September saw an historic moment in Australia’s fight for sustainable palm oil - a Palm Oil Stakeholder Meeting took place at Woolworths’ head office in Sydney, mainly in response to the Palm Oil Action Group (POAG), who have been demonstrating and raising awareness on the issue outside of Woolworths’ stores for the past few months.

The meeting was attended by representatives from POAG, The Rainforest Information Centre, Woolworths’ Corporate Social Responsibility Team and Homebrand and Select teams, Nestle, WWF, The Heart Foundation, the Australian Food and Grocery Council and a range of dieticians and nutritionists, showing the wide range of impact that an unhealthy and unsustainable oil such as palm oil has. A disappointing last minute withdrawal was Goodman Fielder, one of the world’s largest importers and users of palm oil.

“It was clear from the meeting that at the end of the day everyone wants the same thing – that is ensuring that rainforests are protected and not harmed for palm oil production, and in the same vein also ensuring the survival of many species that are on the brink of extinction, including orangutans, Asian elephants and Sumatran tigers” says Anasuya Claff of POAG. “What is not clear is whether companies such as Woolworths and Nestle will put their money where their mouth is and actually support sustainable palm oil.”

Woolworths declined to comment on the meeting, although this has not dimmed POAG’s hopes.

Around 50 orangutans are killed each week from palm oil operations, with some estimates giving them less than 5-10 years left in the wild as a species. Palm oil expansion is also linked to a host of other important issues including climate change, illegal clearing of forests, water pollution and the displacement of local indigenous populations.

“Woolworths have already demonstrated some commitment to the palm oil issue and have removed it where possible from their Select range of products. For example, their Select soap is one of the only soaps on the market to have removed palm oil from its ingredients. We now want to see them step up their commitment” continues Ms Claff.

POAG are calling on companies such as Woolworths to label palm oil in their products; to substitute palm oil for other sustainable oils where possible; and to commit to 100% sustainable palm oil where it must be used. This issue is highlighted by disappointing sales of sustainable palm oil in 2008. Despite many companies using membership of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to placate concerned customers, only 1% of Certified RSPO Sustainable Palm Oil was actually bought. 

POAG also continues to call on consumers to ring food companies and ask them if their products contain Palm Oil and, if so, insist they label them correctly and immediately source sustainable palm oil until other viable sustainable options can be found. All feedback can be sent to Anasuya@palmoilaction.org.au.
For further information on The Palm Oil Action Group’s campaign please see http://www.palmoilaction.org.au/pages/what-can-i-do.html.


Photos: http://www.palmoilaction.org.au/pages/action-events.html
Youtube clip of sticker campaign ‘Palm Oil Red Alert’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10iXVvF4Xwg
 
For further comment contact:
 
email:  Anasuya@palmoilaction.org.au