Total sales of packaged food carrying a sustainable palm oil label on packaging was around $220.40m in 2015, and is expected to reach $239.90m by 2020 according to Euromonitor.
Of seven key food categories, breakfast cereals ranked first with $92.1m of sales - or around 40% of the total - while just $2.5m of confectionery carried a sustainable palm oil label.
Food companies are among the biggest users of palm oil, with half of all food products containing the ingredient, said Ewa Hudson, head of Health and Wellness research for Euromonitor.
Consumer pressure on food industry
“There is increasing pressure on them to move to sustainably sourced variants," she added.
"The popularity of palm oil was driven, in part, by consumer pressure on the food industry to switch to trans-fat-free alternatives to partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. However, consumer priorities are constantly changing, and ethical consumption is flavor of the year in many markets.”
Euromonitor Ethical Labels analyst Alan Rownan suggested confectionery manufacturers might be unsure of what effect highlighting the presence of palm oil in a product would have on consumer perception of that product.
“Until consumer awareness of the issue reaches a point where a palm oil commitment has to be conveyed to the consumer, there will continue to be a reluctance to include these labels," he added.
Corporate social responsibility commitments
For now, confectionery are expected to continue to have sustainable palm oil as part of their corporate social responsibility commitments in the background.
“If a large number of consumers question how a confectionery company sources its palm oil, the company should be in a position where it can answer,” said Rownan.
The figures have been highlighted by Passport Ethical Labels, Euromonitor’s new database designed to respond to the growing movement towards social responsibility and sustainability. The database currently covers 26 markets.
Rownan told ConfectioneryNews the data is the starting point of their palm oil coverage.
“We’re launching a new component to our methodology in the coming weeks that also takes into account the value of corporate social responsibility commitments around palm oil made by these leaders, so that we’re not relying just on what the consumer is seeing on the packaging.”