Monday, 22 August 2011

The Plight of the Orang-utan

I have to promote the wonderful products that Paterson's produce.  They are one of the few manufacturers in the UK who can proudly display the Orang-utan friendly logo because they have switched from using palm oil in their products to sustainable olive oil. 
For those who don't know the palm oil story, scientists say the palm oil industry is the biggest threat to orangutans, with the species driven to extinction within 12 years unless the devastation of their natural habitat is halted. Palm oil (or vegetable oil as it is labeled on most of our products) is in a vast number of your supermarket purchases from your bread, margarine, biscuits to your pizza, chewing gum and toiletries. Initial estimates had palm oil in one in ten of your products but the Independent published a study in 2009 that had palm oil "used in far greater quantities". It went on to say "it is confirmed or suspected in 43 of Britain's 100 bestselling grocery brands, representing £6bn of the UK's £16bn annual shopping basket for top brands". A Friends of the Earth publication "Oil for Ape Scandal" had the UK as the second biggest importer of palm oil in Europe behind the Netherlands.

Campaigners do not want to ban the use of palm oil - it's far too widespread - instead want a greater use of sustainable palm oil and "Orang-utan Friendly" labelling to inform the customer. The land that has already been cleared is enough to sustain the palm oil demand but companies in Borneo continue illegal logging.

All I can ask you to do is be aware of this when doing your weekly shop.  If you feel as strongly as I do, write to your supermarkets or sign online petitions like this one ( to put pressure on supermarkets to be more responsible in sourcing palm oil (or joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil - RSPO).  If you can, buy more organic food and check the labels on products for vegetable oil/palm oil.  You'll be amazed how many products contain palm oil.  Donate money to worthy charities like Friends of the Earth, Save the Orang-utan or WSPA

The orang-utans say thank you very much:


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