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.
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’ve been working with Chester Zoo since 2019, supporting 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. In 2023 we went further beyond certification to support smallholder farmers through the Solidaridad Network in Malaysia. Find out more about the palm oil programmes we support here.
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.
Sustainable Palm Oil Communities
At Co-op we are committed to participation in the Sustainable Palm Oil Communities campaign around the UK. Since 2014 we have ensured all palm oil present in our own brand food, is sourced from certified sustainable sources under RSPO schemes, and we continue to raise awareness among our members and customers.
By doing this we know that we are helping to protect wildlife around the world from the impact of unsustainable agricultural practices.
Currently, we are Sustainable Palm Oil champions in the following places: Chester, Blackpool, Hull & East Riding of Yorkshire, Oxford, Newquay and Dorset.
Our five year strategy
Beyond our own products we know palm oil is present indirectly through animal feed. Data accuracy here is challenging and working to improve this and set requirements for sourcing as part of an overall responsible feed approach. We also know that traders are key stakeholders in the supply chain and continue to engage with them, using the findings of the annual Palm Oil Transparency Coalition (POTC) report to inform this. Engaging with key Branded suppliers also remains part of our strategy, on their use of sustainable palm oil, climate change and responsible sourcing strategies more widely.
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 and we want to ensure we go further to support smallholder farmers. That’s why in 2023 we began working with Solidaridad supporting their National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NI-SCOPS) programme in Malaysia.
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 2022 we used 5,362 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. Find out more in our 2022 Sustainability Report.