Have an eco-friendly Easter: sustainable chocolate and palm oil
This Easter Giverny Masso explores the issues surrounding palm oil and considers how consumers can choose more eco-friendly chocolate.
It is often hard to know where to begin when trying to make eco-friendly food choices. This is especially true when it comes to the chocolate industry, which relies on ingredients from all over the world and is dominated by multinational corporations.
The ingredient of palm oil, used in most chocolate due to its creamy texture and high yield, poses the biggest environmental issue.
Palm oil cultivation has long resulted in deforestation, often destroying bio-diverse areas home to protected species.
According to the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), an organisation that aims to make sustainable palm oil the norm, simply boycotting the ingredient is not the answer.
The RSPO argue that boycotting palm oil can create even larger environmental problems. The other vegetable oils that would replace it are less efficient crops and would use far more land to produce.
An RSPO spokesperson said: “The RSPO trademark allows consumers to make an informed choice if they want to buy sustainable products. Our trademark logo can only be used if at least 95% of all palm-derived components are RSPO-certified.”
For palm oil to be RSPO certified it must adhere to a set of strict criteria. One of the requirements is that no areas containing significant concentrations of biodiversity or fragile ecosystems can be cleared.
However, for consumers it is not as simple as merely looking out for the RSPO trademark.
The RSPO spokesperson said: “Not all brands use the trademark so even if there is no RSPO trademark, it does not mean that the palm oil in this product is not sustainable.”
“Most of the world’s largest confectionary manufacturers including Mondelez, Nestle, Mars and Ferrero have already committed to purchasing only RSPO-certified palm oil for their products.”
The RSPO certification itself has been criticised by some, including environmental organisation Greenpeace, for not using high enough standards.
Pat Venditti, Forests Campaigner for Greenpeace International said: “RSPO certification isn’t at present a guarantee that the palm oil used in chocolate is deforestation free.
“Companies using palm oil to produce chocolate or other consumer goods need to go beyond RSPO standards to ensure their products are rainforest friendly.”
The charity Borneo Orangutan Survival recommends consumers check labels and purchase either palm oil free products or, if palm oil is an ingredient, checking for the Certified Sustainable Palm Oil logo or contacting the manufacturer to get information on the oil’s source.
If the palm oil is not sustainable, consumers are advised to choose a different company and tell the manufacturer why you’ve chosen not to buy their product.
Here are two chocolate companies you can enjoy guilt-free. Neither use palm oil in their products and both commit to sourcing all their ingredients sustainably:
Fairtrade chocolate that is available in most UK stores, click here.
A smaller chocolate company with some bars available in Waitrose stores and the full range of products available online here.
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