HOT OFF THE PRESS: Iceland Tweaks Its Labels To Technically Reach Its Objective.

20 March 2019

SO, WHAT HAPPENED?

UK supermarket chain Iceland has been in the spotlight after pledging in April of last year that its own-brand products would be 100% palm oil free by the end of December 2018. Instead of removing palm oil from these products, however, they removed their own brand labelling from them. The retailer’s changes to its food labels have been questioned publicly in regards to transparency around its palm-oil free promise.

ICELAND’S PROMISE.

‘To stop manufacturing products containing palm oil as an ingredient under the Iceland own label by the end of 2018’.

The supermarket’s commitment to remove palm oil from its own products came amid growing concerns for the ingredient’s negative environmental impact. With ambiguity around whether the supermarket had fulfilled its ambitious promise, investigations have since been carried out by the BBC. By the end of 2018, it was found that Iceland had removed palm oil from the majority of its own line, however, 17 products still temporarily contain the ingredient. Iceland released a statement explaining manufacturing difficulties it had faced as well as its achievements thus far.

THAT VIRAL CHRISTMAS AD.

In collaboration with Greenpeace, Iceland put forward a 2018 Christmas television advertisement reflecting its anti-palm oil agenda. However, the ad wasn’t aired after it was banned for its political motives by Clearcast, which governs the Broadcast Code of Advertising Practice in the UK. The animated advertisement told the harrowing story of a baby orangutan (Rang-tan) that was forced out of its rainforest habitat due to the harvesting of palm oil. The controversial ad has been viewed over 65 million times. One broadcasting official for ITV stated that the advert should have aired.

IS PALM OIL STILL ON ICELAND’S FOOD LABELS?

Technically no, not on the labels themselves.

The supermarket has disassociated itself from unethical palm oil farming through removing the ingredient from its products where possible. Iceland has stated that it is pushing its manufacturers to remove the ingredient from all of its own products and will reinstate label branding by April 2019.

NEXT TIME YOU ARE OUT SHOPPING, LOOK OUT FOR PALM OIL ON THE BACK OF THE PRODUCTS YOU ARE BUYING. FOR 3 KEY REASONS:

•Palm oil products contribute to deforestation. Human harvesting of palm oil has been responsible for destroying 8% of the world’s rainforest between 1990 and 2008.

•Deforestation = habitat loss. Mainly orangutans (as seen in Iceland’s banned ad) are threatened by deforestation, population figures have dropped significantly over the past 16 years.

•The ingredient is not good for your health. It’s high in saturated fat which is harmful to cardiovascular health.