Case study in palm oil ethics: Earth Balance

Earth Balance is one of the oldest vegan alternatives to butter and it’s made mainly from palm oil. Ownership of the Earth Balance brand has changed hands several times over the last decade or two – it’s now owned by Conagra Brands. Ethics of the brand has also shifted over the years. At one point Earth Balance was connected to the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) and seemed to be on the verge of making a positive impact on palm oil industry. Things have changed and now, under Conagra Brands, Earth Balance suffers from all-too-common palm oil sourcing issues.

Earth Balance Pressed Sunflower Oil Spread - Green Stars rating for social and environmental impact. The image shows a tub of Earth Balance spread with a graphic below it showing an ethical score of 1/5 Green Stars.

The first post in this series provided a broad overview of the main palm oil certifications. Then I took a look at a (rare) example of a palm oil product that I believe is worth supporting – Nutiva shortening, certified by Palm Done Right. This post (published on Ethical Bargains) takes a look at Earth Balance and why it should be avoided. Continue reading about Earth Balance palm oil sourcing.

5 thoughts on “Case study in palm oil ethics: Earth Balance

  1. Such a challenge. We choose veganism assuming ethics and then big corps get involved and toss those ethics. Was a pretty devoted Earth Balance user. Will look to see who makes what here in the remote wilds of North Devon. 🙂 Hopefully it’s not ConAgra. Thanks for all your work, J. So important!!!


    1. Hey Frances. Here’s what I’d suggest:
      1. Write an online review of Earth Balance to register your disappointment via a low Green Stars rating (and enter the GSP competition at the same time!)
      2. Switch to one of the many good plant-based butters available (e.g., Miyoko’s, Kite Hill) or try using olive oil.

      If you’re feeling sufficiently fired up about it, you could also announce a campaign to Conagra Brands whereby you will quit Earth Balance by 2022 unless they commit to upgrade to Palm Done Right certified palm oil 🙂


  2. This was a really interesting series! Thank you so much – you always give me so much to think about (and now I need to investigate what products I use, and if they’re using palm oil!)


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