Supermarket rolls back palm oil ban after war in Ukraine Business

Iceland was forced to roll back the palm oil ban due to a severe shortage of sunflower oil, a staple ingredient in frozen fries and breaded fish.

The supermarket chain will start selling a limited range of own-brand products from June containing palm oil after banning the ingredient in 2018 in a stance against tropical deforestation.

UK food makers have warned that supplies of staples could run out in weeks as crops are trapped in Ukraine and Russia, which together account for almost 70% of the world’s sunflower oil.

Richard Walker, Iceland’s managing director, expressed his “tremendous regret” at having to renege on his promise to remove palm oil from all his own-brand items.

He said: “The only alternative to using palm oil under the current circumstances would be to simply empty our freezers and shelves of a wide range of staple foods, including frozen crisps and other potato products.”

He said the move was “a last resort and a strictly temporary measure” and would only use certified sustainable palm oil as an ingredient.

A matter of taste

Mr Walker added: ‘All packaging will of course clearly state the palm oil in the ingredient list, where it has been used.’ In 2018, the grocer featured a cartoon orangutan in its Christmas ad produced in partnership with Greenpeace that fled the destruction of a rainforest.

The campaign was pulled from television because it was considered too “political” at the time, but has since been seen by millions of people on social media.

Mr Walker said: “Now that he [sunflower oil] has suddenly become unaffordable, or totally unobtainable, we are working closely with our suppliers to find alternatives.

“In many cases we can substitute rapeseed oil, but there are some recipes where the only viable substitute for sunflower oil, either because of its processing properties or taste issues, turns out to be Palm oil.”

The food regulator last week gave the green light to food manufacturers to replace sunflower oil with rapeseed oil before changing product labels due to shortages.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-28 05:00:00

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