Case study in palm oil ethics: Nutiva

The previous post provided a broad overview of the main palm oil certifications.  The issues with Palm oil are still very much at large and many companies (including most major multinationals) are still sourcing irresponsible palm oil.

Most food and cosmetic products that contain palm oil rate poorly for social and environmental impact and yet the majority of these brands will attempt to convince you otherwise. Most commonly, the product package will contain a statement such as “Sauron Oil Corp. is a proud member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)”. This statement actually carries no weight and provides no assurance that the palm oil is responsibly sourced. In fact, the presence of this statement (and lack of any other information) is usually a good indication that the product rates poorly.

Other brands will attempt to hide the fact that they contain palm oil. I spent most of September in Ireland and noticed that two bestselling buttery spreads, which featured images of sunflowers and olives on their respective lids, actually contained far more palm oil than either sunflower or olive oil.

There are some products containing palm oil that are worthy of support. Because palm oil is a high-yield crop, it can actually help reduce pressure on land for agriculture – but that’s only a net positive when it’s farmed responsibly. Therefore, correct sorting of the good from the bad is crucial.

As mentioned in the last post, I’m going to feature a couple of case studies that illustrate the process of evaluating products that contain palm oil. First up is Nutiva shortening, made from palm oil that’s certified by Palm Done Right.

Continue reading about the ethics of Nutiva’s palm oil shortening.

(That post is on the GSP’s sister site, Ethical Bargains)

3 thoughts on “Case study in palm oil ethics: Nutiva

  1. compared to other oils, palm oil is an inferior oil, releasing free radicals in the body because of the way they process it. plus they destroy so many acres of rainforests to grow it. I never buy it, James.


    1. Hi Pam – thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Avoiding palm oil completely is a valid way to approach the issue.
      I avoid 99% of palm oil products and only support those brands (e.g., Dr. Bronner’s, Nutiva, etc.) that source truly sustainable palm oil (e.g., certified by Palm Done Right). I like to support companies that are actively working to address social and environmental problems (as well as avoiding those companies that create the problems).


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