Our palm oil commitment
Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. At Co-op it’s one of our key ingredients, so find out how we're committed to sourcing palm oil responsibly for people and the planet.
What is palm oil?
The oil comes from the fruit of the palm tree, from both the seed and flesh. Unlike other oils, palm oil is unique in being hard at room temperature. It also has a higher yield than other oils from the same amount of land, with the trees growing best around the equator – Indonesia and Malaysia producing the most. Palm oil can be sourced sustainably but when it's not production can have negative impacts on communities, and drive deforestation, climate change and habitat loss. We take a responsible approach to sourcing, developed in line with advice from NGOs, as this is the best way to influence positive change.
100% of the palm oil we use in our products is covered by one of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification schemes. We’re working towards having 100% segregated palm, reducing any remaining reliance on credits and mass balance. We report on our progress on an annual basis within our sustainability report.
We’ve been working with Chester Zoo to support a conservation project in Borneo. We’ve funded some of their reforestation which aims to reverse deforestation and restore wildlife (including orangutans) in a former palm oil plantation devastated by overproduction.
We know we can’t make change alone. Our actions include joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the Retailers’ Palm Oil Group and the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition. We also responded to the government’s 2020 consultation on due diligence, joining other UK retailers in pushing for the proposals on tackling deforestation in supply chains to be strengthened.
Our five year strategy
Looking beyond our own Co-op products, we’ll be engaging with selected branded suppliers on their use of sustainable palm oil during 2021. We’ll assess the palm oil used in animal feed for our fresh protein and dairy products and publish our findings in 2022. Our sustainability report now publishes a list of traders who provide most of the palm oil used in our product. We’ll continue to engage with our key traders based on the findings of the annual POTC report.
We’ll continue to work with Chester Zoo, restoring landscapes through reforestation of former palm oil plantations. We’ll build on our progress to fund the planting of 50,000 trees by the end of 2025. We also recognise that smallholders are a key part of the palm oil supply chain. Although we already purchase a small number of independent smallholder credits, by the end of 2021 we also want to identify project opportunities we can support.
We’ll continue our active participation in collaborative groups, engaging on further consultations with the government’s due diligence legislation – continuing to urge the government to deliver meaningful laws on deforestation in supply chains.