Platform presents public with palm oil dilemmas

A new platform has been launched to help raise awareness among consumers about the complex sustainability issues within the palm oil supply chain.

Nestlé has create the interactive video platform, ‘beneath the surface’, in response to research that shows around one in five millennial shoppers (17%) avoid purchasing products containing palm oil with almost half (45%) saying they avoid products containing unsustainably sourced palm oil. Around one in ten (12%) say they don’t know exactly what to look for to establish if a product is sustainable.

The aim of the platform is to give users a better insight into the complexity of the palm oil supply chain and see how the choices they make under different scenarios can lead to a range of outcomes and consequences.

The platform covers topics including deforestation, forced labour and use of palm oil as an ingredient in food products.

Nestlé previously set an ambition to have its palm oil supply chain deforestation free by 2020 but problems working with small scale farmers prevented it achieving its goal, which has since been pushed back to 2022.

One of the dilemmas the platform presents is whether small-scale farmers should be excluded from the supply chain or whether Nestlé should engage with them and influence them to adopt more sustainable practices.

When asked about the production of palm oil, more than half (56%) of people surveyed believe Nestlé should work with small farmers, and only one in ten (11%) say it shouldn’t.

“The beneath the surface platform enables users to take a peek at some of the dilemmas Nestlé and many other organisations face with palm oil every day,” said Dr Emma Keller, head of sustainability at Nestle UK & Ireland. “We hope that by having more open conversations about the complexity of sourcing ingredients such as palm oil, people can understand the issues and make better informed decisions when choosing products.”

Nestlé is also using the Starling system, which uses the satellites of space industry giant Airbus to monitor land cover changes and forest cover disturbances in real time for signs of deforestation.

A 2020 scorecard by WWF found too many foodservice companies are not yet moving far or fast enough on sustainable palm oil.

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