Over half of products in supermarkets contain palm oil, according to United Kingdom (UK) grocery store chain Iceland, and demand is contributing to deforestation. Iceland plans to do something about it by becoming the “first major UK supermarket” to eliminate palm oil from its own label products by the close of 2018.
Palm oil is one of the largest causes of deforestation in the world, according to Iceland, which specializes in frozen foods. So they plan to remove it from their own brand products. “By the end of 2018, Iceland will stop using palm oil as an ingredient in 100 percent of its own brand food production, reducing demand for palm oil by more than 500 tonnes per year,” head chef Neil Nugent said in Iceland’s video above. Iceland said Nugent is working to replace palm oil with fats and oils that aren’t destroying rainforests — The Guardian said this includes oils like vegetable or rapeseed oils.
Iceland quoted their managing director Richard Walker on their website as saying, “Until Iceland can guarantee palm oil is not causing rainforest destruction, we are simply saying ‘no to palm oil.’ We don’t believe this is such a thing as sustainable palm oil available to retailers, so we are giving consumers a choice about what they buy.”
Deforestation is threatening many species, including the critically endangered orangutan — their population “has more than halved in the last 15 years,” according to Iceland. The World Wildlife Fund describes the animals as gardeners of the forest, “playing a vital role in seed dispersal.” They’re vulnerable in part due to their low reproductive rate — since females only give birth to one infant around every three to five years, it can take a while for the species to recover from declines in population.