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?
Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. 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.
We’re committed to sourcing any palm oil we use in our products as free from deforestation, conversion or severe degradation of any natural ecosystems. 100% of the palm oil we use in our products is covered by one of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification schemes. RSPO sets the environmental and social standards for sustainably sourcing palm oil. As a member, we’re among charities, palm oil producers, processors, consumer goods manufacturers, other retailers, banks and investors who work together to make positive changes. We’re working towards having 100% segregated palm, reducing any remaining reliance on credits and mass balance. We report on our progress annually 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 and sharing data with collaborative groups such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Retailers’ Palm Oil Group and the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition. We’ll also engage in further consultations with the government’s due diligence legislation – continuing to urge the government to deliver meaningful laws on deforestation in supply chains.
Consuming palm oil
Is palm oil healthy?
Palm oil contributes to the taste, heat stability and texture of food. The oil contains almost no trans fatty acids, which raise more cholesterol than saturated fatty acids and can be found in vegetable oils. Palm oil can also be used to replace butter in some products and contains less saturated fat.
Is palm oil vegan?
Palm oil is a vegetable product and is officially vegan as it doesn’t require animals to make it. However, some people feel that it may not be, because animals could be harmed through its production if not farmed sustainably. Read more from the Vegan Society.
How much palm oil is in our products?
In 2020 we used 7,431 tonnes of palm oil in our Co-op branded food and non-food products. All this palm oil was certified as sustainable under one of the RSPO certification schemes.