Palm Oil Production and the Devastating Effects of Its Far-Reaching Use

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

As I research the products I have been using and learning about how I can make choices that help the environment and also lessen the toxic chemical load I put into my body - I recall hearing about how intense the demand for palm oil is for use in MANY of our everyday products and how it has contributed to the widespread deforestation and destruction of animal habitats, as well as perpetuates the violation of human rights of its producers and laborer's on a mass scale.

My conflict resolution background has laid the groundwork for my awareness regarding these issues. Almost everything we buy has palm oil in it - this is because of how inexpensive it is to buy in large quantities to use as a preservative. Palm oil is widely used in food processing and personal products like shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning products, and biodiesel. With the pressures many companies face to find alternatives to using trans fats, companies have resulted in sourcing out the most financially beneficial alternatives, but at what cost?

A few selected countries have acknowledged the issues palm oil production creates and have made attempts to radicalize the regulation of palm oil usage within their respective industries. Norway sees a sharp drop in palm oil biofuel consumption after a ban on government purchasing ( - by Lauren Crothers on 17 June 2019).

Here is some information I have found on this subject:

Here are 10 companies that have already committed to sourcing palm oil for their products from sustainable sources. Many have promised to make the switch by 2015. At the moment, some of these corporations have made more progress than others toward this goal. At the very least, these companies are taking a step in the right direction to a more sustainable future and hopefully others will follow suit (

1. Hershey

In 2011, Hershey Co. agreed to purchase all of its palm oil from 100 percent sustainable, traceable sources by 2015. Since then, the company has made incredible progress and now plans to reach this goal by the end of 2014.

'Update as of 2019' - "Well On the Path" Rating

Here is a link to the WWF statistics website which outlines where Hershey is on their aforementioned goal (

2. Walmart

In 2010, Walmart launched a Global Sustainable Agriculture campaign to help small farmers bolster their business. Walmart highlights its goal to change its practices of sourcing beef and palm oil, naming these industries as the most environmentally damaging. By mandating that private Walmart brand products be sourced from sustainable palm plantations, Walmart estimates it will reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by five million metric tons by 2015.

'Update as of 2019' - "Middle of the Pack" Rating

Here is a link to the WWF statistics website which outlines where Walmart is on their aforementioned goal (

3. Avon Inc.

The makeup giant, Avon Inc. joined the RSPO as part of the 2011 “Avon Palm Oil Promise” campaign. While Avon Inc. does not consider itself a “significant” user of palm oil, it has committed to using sustainably sourced palm oil to help drive the future of the industry.

4. P&G Chemicals

Proctor & Gamble (P&G) manufactures basically every consumer good you could imagine. Because of this, they have a pretty big stake in the palm oil industry. To ensure the palm oil used in their wide range of products is sustainably sourced, P&G offers “supplier and partner coaching” on the principles and criteria to meet RSPO standards. P&G has also partnered with nonprofit organizations and other stakeholders to hold their practices accountable.

'Update as of 2019' - "Middle of the Pack" Rating

Here is a link to the WWF statistics website which outlines where Proctor & Gamble (P&G) is on their aforementioned goal (

5. ConAgra

ConAgra is an American packaged food company that produces brands such as Marie Callendars, Orville Redenbacher, and Slim Jim. The company has a bit of a shady track record and has faced criticism for its environmental policies in the past. However, ConAgra believes palm oil is a “healthy” alternative to trans fat and in an effort to make both the planet and their customers a little healthier, they have committed to sourcing 100 percent sustainable palm oil by 2015.

'Update as of 2019' - 'Lagging Behind' Rating

Here is a link to the WWF statistics website which outlines where ConAgra is on their aforementioned goal (

6. Johnson & Johnson

In 2010 and 2011, Johnson & Johnson purchased 100 percent of their palm oil needs from sustainable sources through RSPO’s GreenPalm program. Although Johnson & Johnson is responsible for only 0.2 percent of the world’s palm oil consumption, they have a highly comprehensive plan in place to ensure the palm oil they do use is sustainably sourced.

'Update as of 2019' - "Middle of the Pack" Rating

Here is a link to the WWF statistics website which outlines where Johnson & Johnson is on their aforementioned goal (

7. Heinz

Heinz started their mission to convert to sustainable palm oil in 2010. The company has since reduced its global demand for palm oil by 25 percent and achieved its goal of sourcing 100 percent sustainable palm oil by 2013.

8. Marks & Spencers

Marks & Spencers (M&S) is the British equivalent to Target. Marks & Spencers manufactures their own product brand that includes food, household goods, and beauty products. M&S launched a sustainability program in 2007 and is committed to sourcing all palm oil for their brand from sustainable sources by 2015.

9. Earth Balance

You probably know Earth Balance as the vegan, GMO-free margarine company but, in 2009 Earth Balance had vegans and animal lovers up in arms for its use of palm oil. Even though the faux-butter spread was free of animal products, its link to palm oil implicates its support of animal cruelty. Since then, Earth Balance has verified its commitment to 100 percent sustainable palm oil. The palm oil used in Earth Balance comes from organic farms in Brazil as well as RSPO certified sources in Malaysia. Earth Balance also purchases GreenPalm certificates and actively supports Orangutan Foundation International.

10. Dunkin’ Donuts

In 2013, Dunkin’ Donuts announced it was changing its recipes, using only 100 percent sustainably sourced palm oil to fry their signature donuts. While this might not make doughnuts any better for you, it does set a standard for other fast-food companies.

All of these companies made the commitment to switch to sustainably sourced palm oil in response to the concern of their consumers. Even though adopting sustainable practices may seem like the obvious thing for ALL corporations to do, they are historically slow to hop on the wagon. If you want to see a change in the brands you buy, the power is in your palm!

I will absolutely do my best to support companies and businesses that have committed to this initiative.

Palm oil plantation


This video does a great job showing how achievable sustainable palm oil production is as we glimpse into the lives of palm oil producers.

#wellness #deforestation #wildlife #environment #health #lifestyle

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