Appetite For Destruction


But whether you like Chocolate Digestives, Rich Tea or American cookies, it is very likely that the biscuit you love contains palm oil, and quite a lot of it.

The biscuit industry uses about one-fifth of all the palm oil imported for the food sector. The good news, however, is that over the last ten years, many of the UK’s leading biscuit manufacturers have responded positively to the ecological and humanitarian threats posed by the growth in palm oil production by gradually reducing the amount of palm oil used in their products. The bad news is that this sector still uses 150,000 tonnes of palm oil every year. Less than half of this is even certified as ‘sustainable’ under the weak standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).


With Singapore and parts of Malaysia only just recovering from choking air pollution caused by the clearance by fire of forests in nearby Sumatra, the human and planetary cost of palm oil production is once again in the spotlight.


Having destroyed vast areas of rainforest in south-east Asia, palm oil companies are now expanding into the equatorial rainforests of Africa, home to lowland gorillas, chimpanzees and elephants.


This is why we have launched our ‘Appetite for Destruction?‘ campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the impacts associated with the production of this common food ingredient. In new research carried out jointly with Ethical Consumer magazine, over 50 of the UK’s biggest biscuit manufacturers were surveyed on their use of palm oil or its derivatives. 




The most ‘ethical’ companies revealed by the survey include Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and United Biscuits. However, a divide is now emerging on the issue of palm oil between these more progressive companies and those bottom-scoring, mostly American-based companies including Asda/Walmart, PepsiCo and Kraft, makers of Ritz and Oreo biscuits. 


The product guide on biscuits adds to the information already provided on chocolate and bread.