The Palm Scribe

Boycott the boycott

Iceland Foods ‘supermarket chain’ anti-palm oil Christmas campaign, which has become a viral aftermath from TV in the United Kingdom for breaching political advertising rules, is a populist strategy that actually provides some important science-based information, argues the Rome-based think tank For Free Choice Institute.


A scene from Iceland Foods’s advertising campaign

Iceland Foods‘s  #NoPalmoilChristmas campaign is cynically commercial.

Loud announcements the replacement of palm oil with (less sustainable) vegetable oils is an easy shortcut and a populist way to capture new consumers and build customers’ loyalty when the quality of the products on the shelf is low.

This strategy has already been pursued in Italy by companies such as Barilla and COOP. Their results have been questionable and irrelevant in terms of deforestation, with a meaningless increase in sales; necessitating considerable technical investment to switch from palm oil to other oils; and is expensive and discriminatory communication campaign. It is also questionable considering the very high price of sunflower oil.

Like Iceland Foods, Barilla and COOP were users of palm oil. In 2016 they suddenly abandoned it, claiming that it was unhealthy and dangerous for the environment. Until 2016, they had argued the exact opposite. Spanish food producers and retailers are following the Italians and replacements.

The “Free From Palm Oil” claim is emotional as we have demonstrated, it is consumers and discriminates a healthy ingredient misleads.

This unfair commercial practice has now reached the UK where low quality food traders adopt it to try to gain market share.

Iceland Foods’ pro-orangutan videos were censored. It, however, still got what the British cynical supermarket chain was seeking: media attention. Mainstream media and the anti-scientific elite helped promote it. With this video, they hope to generate more consumers and reactions.

Unfortunately, the video fails to provide some important science-based information usually happens in the commercial war against palm oil.

For example, it doesn’t say that palm crop with the highest yield per hectare: 3.8 tons versus 0.8 tons for rapeseed and 0.7 tons for sunflower. It does not even take into account the conclusions of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Global Forest Assessment 2015, which estimates that the oil palm trees will be reduced at around 5 percent against higher percentages for intensive farming and the paper industry.

The boycott of palm oil will not save orangutans, nor forests, it might simply cause deforestation by simply displacing it. Palm oil’s supply chain is the most sustainable. It is only that it meets stringent sustainability criteria. This is the case for other vegetable oils – with which palm oil has been substituted.

The relationship between man and environment is a delicate balance. We must take into account the right time to preserve flora and fauna. Palm oil is, at this time, the most sustainable cultivation that guarantees this balance. So instead of boycotting it, we have to support palm oil.

Does Iceland Prefer children over children? It seems so. Without plantations there would be no schools – and therefore education – which are the best tools to foster the culture of sustainability.

Those who are boycotting palm oil are basically jeopardizing the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Iceland Foods, with this campaign, is not interested in promoting sustainability, but only its profits.

If Iceland Foods is so safe to save the environment, why doesn’t it farm intensively? It is, after all, the main cause of deforestation.

It is important for OECD countries to fight for more countries and countries in Africa, Asia, and South America to achieve SDGs.

We are on the side of children and farmers, so we ask you to boycott Iceland Foods’ #NoPalmoilChristmas campaign.

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