Let's Talk About Palm Oil

Author: F & F   Date Posted:24 April 2017 

You will no doubt have heard something about palm oil. At Flora & Fauna, as a general rule, we don’t like palm oil because of the damage and destruction it can, and is, doing particularly in Indonesia so, in this article, we explain more about it.


However cutting straight to the good news, at Flora & Fauna any palm oil in our products is sustainably sourced. But even better we have just undertaken a huge exercise to identify which of our 3000+ products contain palm oil and the great news is that well over 2200 of them don’t (and counting). We have been very strict because if a product contains a palm oil derivative it’s a no no for us. This number will only rise as we continue to work closely with brands and auppliers on palm oil. We just couldn't wait to show you this feature so you can use it. You can shop palm oil free by filtering on the left hand side of our website under Features or on mobile under Features.  We’ve spoken to every brand about palm oil and the focus brands put on palm oil and it’s sustainable sourcing is exemplary. Dr Bronner’s, as a great example, source their palm oil from family owned plants in Ghana and are very close to their supply chain. More on them later in this article.

Do note that our palm oil free filter is not a certification, as there currently isn't one, but this is based on our research working with brands and suppliers. 


Palm Oil explained

Palm Oil is a vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African Oil Palm Tree.  These palm trees can grow wherever there’s enough heat and rainfall. As a result Indonesia and Malaysia are perfect climates and 85% of palm oil is produced and exported from here but largely unsustainably. This is where we have issues as land is cleared to grow palm plantations. In clearing land we see mass deforestation, animal habitats lost, animals killed, indigenous people losing land and homes and the list goes on. The orangutan could become extinct within the next 5-10 years and Sumatran tigers in less than 3 years.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production. Along with orangutans sun bears, pygmy elephants and more are being destroyed and poaching is a lot easier with land being cleared. This simply has to stop.

Palm Oil is often called vegetable oil and is hidden in many products so you’ll find it in food, cosmetics, household products and more. There is no mandatory labelling for palm oil in Australia and it is often called vegetable oil and herein lies the problem.


Sustainable Palm Oil

Palm Oil, as an oil, is a great ingredient and works very effectively, which is a problem because we have abused this and demand now is way, way beyond supply. The RSPO is the largest sustainability-focused organisation within the palm oil industry and this not-for-profit organisation offers certification and assurance so if you are buying palm oil you know it's from a sustainable source if they are certified. All products that contain palm oil at Flora & Fauna are sourced from sustainable suppliers. Many people don’t think palm oil can be sustainable but this is a large step in the right direction at least.

We’re delighted that over 90 brands at Flora & Fauna contain no palm oil, or palm oil derivatives, in any of their products that we range. You can shop palm oil free using the filters but do be assured if something does contain palm oil it is sustainably sourced. That we are firm on!


Focus on Dr Bronner’s

We want to highlight Dr Bronner’s because they buck the trend and show how palm oil can be used as a positive contribution to society. Dr Bronner's source palm oil for their bar soaps from Ghana. They work with their sister company in Ghana, Serendipalm who work with 500 small organic farms to develop palm oil. This is fair trade, doesn’t involve deforestation and involves a fair income for the community. Only 4 companies source their palm oil from this project so it is managed very closely and sustainably and it shows how a crop can be grown, harvested and provide a fair trade income for the community.


What can you do?

  1. We really want to see mandatory palm oil labelling to help you make better choices. The supermarket is a particular mindfield and if you ever see vegetable oil just query what it is or just avoid it. 
  2. Shop palm oil free or products with sustainably sourced palm oil. 
  3. Use the filters on our website to shop palm oil free.
  4. Speak out. Don't be shy and speak out about conflict palm oil to family, friends, suppliers, retailers. Be a voice of change. 
  5. There are various charities and organisations helping the orangutans and buying pieces of land to conserve them. Read up and decide if you want to get involved. 


Useful links 

Orangutan Outreach

The Orangutan Project

Zoos Victoria Palm Oil Campaign



Palm Oil Deforestation in Borneo


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