Iceland has removed its name from some of its own-brand palm oil products, rather than removing palm oil itself, in a bid to meet a pledge it made last April.
The supermarket confirmed to HuffPost UK it has temporarily removed its branding from 17 products containing palm oil to meet its commitment to make its own brand range 100% palm oil free by the end of 2018.
It said it did not want to “mislead customers”.
“We made the decision to move these products into brands (even though they don’t sell as well) because it was incredibly important to us that we did not backtrack on our commitment, or mislead consumers in any way about our own label food,” Iceland’s managing director Richard Walker wrote in a blogpost.
Iceland pledged to stop using the ingredient in its own brand food by the end of 2018, warning that the palm oil industry drives the destruction of rainforests. The company promised to remove the product from 130 food lines, reducing palm oil demand by more than 500 tonnes per year.
Found in a range of household products, food items and toiletries, palm oil is causing widespread deforestation and destruction of animal habitats. This has prompted industry efforts to promote “sustainable” palm oil which is not environmentally damaging.
Walker previously said that Iceland did not believe there was verifiably sustainable palm oil on the mass market and so was removing it all together.
It aimed to remove palm oil from all products by the end of 2018 but told the BBC it “was not possible to remove palm oil at a manufacturing level in these products by 31 December 2018”.
Iceland said that it is pushing manufacturers to remove palm oil from the products and plans to reinstate its branding by April. However, a further 15 former own-label products will permanently be sold under a different name as it was impossible to reformulate them without palm oil.
The supermarket confirmed it has successfully removed palm oil from 130 existing own label products, which has cost “millions of pounds of company money”.