Khor Reports: Sustainable palm oil has become inexorably linked with the rise of “palm oil free.” This is confirmed in the latest “ethical rating” of palm oil usage in consumer products: UK's Easter chocolates in this instance (Easter is just around the corner). Get a high score by various degrees of effort or “RSPO-ness.” Else you could simply opt out of palm oil to get the top score (and never mind the attributes of the ingredient you substitute it with i.e. sustainability, transfat and so forth).
The methodology: “Products are ranked on a scoring system of 1-20....Companies that do not use palm oil or their derivatives score 20 (best score). Companies that use it but make no substantial policy statements and are not members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil score 0.” In addition, there are negative marks for any missing or inconsistent information provided.
RSPO's Annual Communication on Progress (ACOP) was greatly strengthened last year but it has been hampered by significant non-responses and non-disclosures. This move in consumer product ratings highlights these issues and marks down companies for their lack of full disclosure.
65 products were rated and only 8 get the "green light": Divine Chocolate, Booja Booja, Traidcraft, Co-op Chocolate, Sainsbury's Chocolate, Waitrose, Biona and Plamil.In a poll by Retail Active in Easter of 2010, UK children were estimated to indulge in more than 2.5 kg of chocolate over the Easter holiday on average, consuming nearly 13,000 calories and 650 grams of fat (reported here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/easter/7544878/Easter-2010-Children-gorge-on-2.5kg-of-chocolate.html). In the USA, Easter was the second most important candy-eating occasion of the year for Americans, who consumed 7 billion pounds of candy in 2011, according to the National Confectioner's Association. In 2012, Americans spent nearly USD2.1 billion on Easter candy (rising to #1 position by sales?), while Halloween sales were over USD2 billion; Christmas, more than USD1.4 billion; and Valentine's Day, over USD1 billion (reported here: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/eastercandy1.html).
Chocolate makers buy specialty fats from palm oil providers in the form of CBE and CBS. To be rated high by ethicalconsumer.org a chocolate manufacturer using palm needs to do the following: be a RSPO member; for all group companies buy segregated sources for all CPO, PKO and palm derivatives used; disclose all relevant data to RSPO, disclose all suppliers and label palm oil in ingredients. The do-nots: provide incomplete or inconsistent information. The alternative, just don't use palm oil to get top marks i.e. go "palm oil free". Back to cocoa butter?
News: UK Easter chocolates rated on sustainable palm oil. "Consumers are unaware of palm oil content, the campaign says, because of current labelling laws. Palm oil is a key ingredient in many food products – including chocolate and biscuits – but companies are not required by EU law to label products containing it until December 2014. The aim of the campaign is to encourage consumers to buy the best-rated products, forcing those companies that are not taking their environmental responsibilities seriously to use more sustainably sourced palm oilraidcraft, Co-operative Food and Sainsbury's also scored very highly. The bottom three chocolate companies were deemed to be Lindt, Thorntons and Guylian. Lindt reportedly supplied inaccurate figures to Ethical Consumer, while Thorntons and Guylian failed to submit any documentation to the organisations that set international sustainable palm oil standards...." . Thttp://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/25/easter-eggs-palm-oil
Scoring methodology details from www.ethicalconsumer.org:
Companies are scored out of 100 possible points, with 100 being the best score.
50 marks are available for companies' actual palm oil use. Scores are applied for the companies' use of crude palm oil (CPO), palm kernel oil (PKO) and palm oil derivatives. Of these, 40 marks are awarded to companies that source 100% of their palm oil through RSPO-approved mechanisms for the trade in sustainable palm oil.
Up to ten additional marks are awarded for the proportion of RSPO-certified palm oil that is segregated.
The above certified mechanisms must apply to the companies' CPO, PKO and palm oil derivatives used. If it only applies to one of these, the mark out of 50 is divided by three.