UK supermarket's viral orangutan ad slammed by palm oil giant

James Marshall
November 18, 2018

An industry group that oversees the sustainability of palm oil has hit back at United Kingdom supermarket chain Iceland Foods Ltd. for its viral commercial attacking the tropical oil.

Iceland's video, which shows a cartoon orangutan explaining to a girl that its home in the rainforest has been destroyed, has been watched more than 4 million times on YouTube and has 15 million views on Facebook, with the hashtag #NoPalmOilChristmas trending on Twitter.

Last week, regulators banned Iceland's Christmas ad from TV for being too "political".

Some of us might know about palm oil in chocolate spread of peanut butter, but according to the World Wildlife Fund, its use in everyday food products like some brands of ice cream, margarine, packaged bread, chocolate, cookies and other baked goods might be more far-reaching than we'd realised.

But while many of us have heard of palm oil, not everyone knows WTF it's actually used for. That's resulted in governments and producers struggling to improve the perception and marketability of the oil, and led to the creation of the RSPO in 2004 to monitor the industry and set standards for sustainable production.

Only then the unnecessary debate over sustainable palm oil be redundant especially when Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) members continue to advocate the benefits of choosing sustainably-produced palm oil to buyers and consumers. In fact, palm oil makes up 35 percent of all vegetable oils, grown on just 10 percent of the land allocated to oil crops. The body has also launched new criteria for its standards to address workers rights, deforestation and issues faced by smallholders, expected to be fully implemented in 2020, he said.

"We're asking our direct suppliers to call on their upstream suppliers to map and monitor the plantations where oil is grown so we can drive further traceability", Mondelez said in an email response to Bloomberg.

Palm oil crops in Borneo. Rainforest Action Network  Flickr CC BY-NC
Palm oil crops in Borneo. Rainforest Action Network Flickr CC BY-NC

"Retailers' margins are very small these days".

"We will not be cowed or stand by idly when advertisements such as the nasty one created by Iceland are allowed to wrongly influence the minds of the people in markets crucial to us", she said.

In a number of European countries that become one of Indonesia's main palm oil markets, inaccurate information has spread relating to palm oil such as deforestation, carbon and water issues and a loss of biodiversity that have often been accepted by the public.

Firms in Malaysia and Indonesia, which dominate global palm oil production, have been routinely accused of deforestation and using slash-and-burn forest clearance that destroys the habitats of under-threat species, including orangutans.

Kok also said Malaysia is a responsible member of the worldwide community in fulfilling the collective duty of addressing climate change and protecting the world's biodiversity for the common future of humankind.

The concept of "shared responsibility" is a new proposed element to the draft P&C, whereby all players or actors throughout the supply chain must work towards the target of increasing CSPO uptake.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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