Thursday, 7 May 2009

Sainsburys and palm oil: doing the right thing pays dividends

Personal note: I think we can consider this to be encouraging news. Apart from anything else we can see that by doing the right thing this major British supermarket company has doubled sales of its first-ever product to contain sustainable palm oil. The change in labelling is also very helpful. Our campaigning continues to make a difference.


News Thursday, 07 May 2009

Sainsbury's only uses certified palm oil in it's frozen fish range. This industry leading commitment to sustainable palm oil is credited with helping to more than double sales of basics fish fingers over the past 12 months. Certified sustainable palm oil was introduced to basics fish fingers last May when Sainsbury's was the first food company to purchase the oil on a large scale.

Following this move, almost 14m basics fish fingers have been sold, meaning the UK is now consuming sustainable palm oil in large volumes for the first time.

Fiona Wheatley, Sainsbury's sustainability manager, said: "We are firmly committed to the use of certified sustainable palm oil and are currently looking for new products in which we can use it. Sales of basics fish fingers have risen sharply and one of the reasons for this is that customers respond favourably to the sustainability of the product."

The supermarket was the first major company to purchase RSPO certified palm oil when it became available for the first time last year and is currently the only retailer to have purchased it at scale.

In addition to being the only retailer to buy the oil in large volumes, Sainsbury's is also the only retailer to set a target date by which to switch to 100 per cent certified sustainable palm oil, aiming to reach this goal by 2014.

Fiona added: "We need to support the workers, farmers, families and communities that rely on palm oil while making sure that tropical forests are protected for everyone's future benefit.

"In order to achieve this, we are dependent not only on widespread take up of certification at plantation level, but also adoption of certified sustainable palm oil sourcing by the companies that trade and process palm oil."

To ensure that customers know that the products they are buying contain certified palm oil, Sainsbury's has created a ‘made with sustainable palm oil' icon that is displayed on front of packs. This is supported with a text box that explains that the palm oil used in the product does not contribute to illegal deforestation, and is sourced with consideration to the environmental, social and economic aspects of palm production.

Sainsbury's is also committed to changing labelling on all products so that they name palm oil (and other vegetable oils) specifically, and no longer use the generic description 'vegetable oil'. This will be completed by July, although as some of the products have a long shelf life it may take some time to sell through the products with the ‘old-style' labelling.

Sainsbury's support of sustainable palm oil is such that the company's CEO, Justin King is a member of the Prince's Rainforest Project (PRP) steering group. The project was set up by HRH The Prince of Wales and seeks to 'make rainforests worth more alive than dead'. The PRP team works with Governments, businesses and non-profit organisations to find solutions to deforestation.