Aberconwy AM Secures First Minister’s Support for Sustainable Palm Oil

With the recent increase in awareness of the brutal context of palm oil, Janet Finch-Saunders, Assembly Member for Aberconwy, has taken a lead on the matter in the Senedd, and challenged the First Minister, securing his support and revealing that the European Union is a current deterrent to major progress in improving awareness of which products consist of ordinary palm oil.

 

Janet said:

 

“Many of you will have seen Iceland’s proposed Christmas advert, and like me, been horrified by the very clear message it conveys. 

 

“Palm oil production is a major cause of deforestation and is destroying the homes of countless species of animals, including orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers.

 

“About half of all packaged products sold in the supermarket consist of palm oil.

 

“Whilst I admire Iceland’s decision to create a new Christmas range without any palm oil, we actually do not need to give up palm oil.

 

“We politicians need to do more to ensure that consumers can easily identify whether products on the shelves consist of sustainable palm oil. For example, this can be shown with the use of RSPO label.

 

“Whilst I am pleased that the First Minister has responded positively to my question, advising of the Welsh Government’s commitment to encouraging food manufacturers and retailers to join bodies promoting sustainable production, it is a shame that more cannot be done in the Assembly.

 

“Indeed, I cannot hide my frustration with the fact that it is the European Union which is currently stopping the introduction of mandatory palm oil food labelling. 

 

“In the midst of regulatory constraints, I hope that more manufacturers and producers will volunteer to use logos on labelling which clearly identify whether the palm oil was from a sustainable source. This seem to me to be the moral thing to do”.

 

ENDS

 

Written Assembly Question by Janet:

Will the First Minister state what measures the Welsh Government will take to ensure that every product consisting of unsustainable palm oil is clearly labelled?

 

Response from the First Minister:

Palm oil is used widely throughout the food industry and other manufacturing sectors because of its versatile chemical properties and lower cost than alternatives.  Awareness has risen greatly amongst consumers and industry about the impact of unsustainably produced palm oil and the need to address this. In response palm oil producers and users have created industry bodies to secure and promote sustainable production.  The Welsh Government welcomes these steps and would encourage manufacturers and retailers to join them.

 

Food labelling requirements are set by European regulations.  There are no current plans to review policy for mandatory food labelling with the current focus being on ensuring the ongoing operability of the regulatory system post-EU exit.

 

By becoming members of schemes that promote the sustainable production of palm oil, manufacturers are able to display a logo on their products that clearly identifies that ingredients derived from palm oil are from sustainable sources. Displaying these logos on a voluntary basis is permissible under current labelling laws. The Welsh Government encourages food manufacturers to use sustainable palm oil from these accredited sources.

Notes:

Rang-tan's Story: https://www.iceland.co.uk/environment/

Which Everyday Products Contain Palm Oil?

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)