Lindt, Thorntons and Guylian have come bottom of a green ranking of Easter eggs based on their use of palm oil. Divine Chocolate came top, with the Co-operative and Sainsbury’s close behind in the survey of more than 70 brands by Ethical Consumer magazine and charity Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK).
The organisations are launching a campaign in response to the increasing threat that unsustainable palm oil is posing to the world’s rainforests, their indigenous wildlife, and the people whose livelihoods depend on the forests. Having destroyed vast areas of forest in countries such as Indonesia, palm oil companies are now planning to expand in the rainforests of the Congo Basin in Africa.
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 oil.
Divine and Booja-Booja were deemed to have the best overall credentials, with neither using any palm oil in their chocolate products. Traidcraft, 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.
Cadbury – now owned by US company Kraft – had poor scores while stablemate Green & Black’s, well-known for its organic range, did much better.
Ethical Consumer ranked companies’ practices and policies in relation to their palm oil sourcing, using information already in the public domain, followed up with a further questionnaire.
The guide to chocolate is the first of a series of guides that will rate all consumer products using palm oil. Future guides will include biscuits, cereals and spreads.
According to a recent RFUK report, Seeds of Destruction, 1m acres of rainforest in the Congo Basin is being developed by palm oil producers. With 284m acres of suitable soil in the region, developers are actively seeking large sites.
Tim Hunt, co-director of Ethical Consumer, added: “Consumer power has the potential to help save the Congo’s rainforests and its wildlife that are under threat from palm oil production. This Easter we’re asking chocolate lovers to buy their Easter eggs from those chocolate companies that we’ve identified as taking an ethically responsible stance on this critical issue.”
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