Friday, 15 January 2010

Reply from the Co-op to a supporter

Thank you for contacting us about your concerns with the use of palm oil. We are naturally aware of all the issues regarding the production of palm oil and I can assure you this is something we take seriously.

Firstly, in line with our honest labelling policy, you will find that we label palm oil in the ingredients list of all our own brand products. This is not a legal requirement and the majority of other retailers will choose to use the generic 'vegetable oil' instead. We feel that by giving our customers all the information regarding the ingredients that go into our own brand products, customers can then make informed choices about whether they buy these products.

The Co-operative Group is committed to the principles of sustainably managed agriculture. Sustainability being defined as agricultural practices which aim to optimise the needs of consumers, society, the environment and the farmer, including his or her community.

In view of this commitment The Co-operative Group requires suppliers who use palm oil, or its derivatives in The Co-operative brand products to source material from sustainably managed plantations where possible, with a timeline for removal of unsustainable oil being developed based upon uptake of sustainable palm oil by the market.

We have also banned palm oil, or a blend containing palm oil, from being used to fry any Co-operative brand products.

In the interest of reducing our environmental impact we require suppliers to consider other types of oils, ideally from non-tropical sources, whilst still recognising these can be an important commodity for some communities.

We also reserve the right to suspend or delist any company within the palm oil supply chain that can be shown to have repeatedly exhibited practices not in keeping with the Principles and Criteria of the RSPO. This suspension will remain until we are satisfied that the issues have been resolved.

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0800 0686 727 or write to Co-operative Group, FREEPOST, MR9473, MANCHESTER M4 8BA.

Yours sincerely.

Gemma Beckett

Customer Relations