UK to lead way on sustainable palm oil

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs: 30 October 2012

By the end of 2015 all palm oil used in central UK Government food and catering services will come from environmentally friendly sources, Environment Minister Richard Benyon announced today.

Government, supermarkets, manufacturers, charities and WWF have also joined forces to work towards ensuring that, by 2015, all palm oil used in everyday food and products such as soaps, biscuits and cosmetics is responsibly-produced and does not contribute to deforestation.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “The Government is leading the way by ensuring that only environmentally friendly sourced palm oil is used in its central food and catering services. This is great news for wildlife and forests around the world.

“People want to know that the products they are using are not contributing to deforestation and climate change and many UK businesses are already starting to make changes. Producers, manufacturers and charities will continue working together to speed up the move to 100% sustainable palm oil in everyday products.”

This announcement comes as the International Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil annual conference takes place in Singapore from 29-31 October.

The Government will also set up an advice and information service to help UK businesses and government procurers work towards 100% sustainable palm oil. This includes a helpline, web pages, newsletters and seminars. Latest figures show that in 2011 the UK imported 450,000 tonnes of palm oil and palm kernel oil.

Food and Drink Federation Director of Sustainability Andrew Kuyk, said: “Many food and drink manufacturers have in place long-standing commitments to using 100% certified sustainable palm oil and the national statement is an important step towards a wider reassurance for consumers that the products they enjoy contain oil from environmentally friendly sources.

“We have seen significant progress towards achieving this aim since the first shipment of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil arrived in November 2008 and we believe the joint agreement will encourage increased uptake by British industry.”

Palm oil and palm kernel oil are used in the food industry as frying fats and as ingredients in a wide range of foods such as biscuits, margarine, snacks and bakery products. They are also used in the production of biodiesel, in animal feed, and soaps and other cleaning products and cosmetics.

The Government, oil processors and distributors, food and drink manufacturers, retailers, animal feed manufacturers, hospitality sector, renewable energy sector, cleaning products industry, speciality chemicals sector and World Wildlife Fund UK (WWF), have all stated their ambition to source 100% sustainable palm oil by 2015. The joint statement is published here

The Government Buying Standard for Food and Catering is available here

Defra has mapped the UK palm oil supply chain and estimated that 24% of palm oil consumed in the UK in 2009 was sustainably sourced. The study is available here:

The Government advice service on sustainable palm oil is accessible here:

WWF publishes a ‘scorecard’ which measures the performance of major retailers and consumer goods manufacturers in terms of moving to sustainable palm oil. It is available here:

Changes to food labelling will make it easier for consumers to identify which products contain palm oil. Changes to the European Food Information Regulations will mean labels have to identify the specific types of vegetable oils that have been used. Businesses are already starting to implement the change, and it will be mandatory on all food products from 13 December 2014. There is more information about the European Food Information for Consumers Regulations available here

According to Eurostat data 2011 UK imports comprised:
• 397,000 metric tons of palm oil,
• 53,000 metric tons of palm kernel oil


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