Goupie: ‘It is not palm oil which is the problem, but how it is produced’
“We have had to explain that it is not palm oil which is the problem, but how it is produced,” said Grace Simpson, brand manager, Goupie.
Get to the root cause of the issues
“Even after explaining RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), we have still had some customers stop buying from us because they have heard about the ‘dangers of palm oil’. But we think it’s important people understand the differences and the potential risks before changing their behaviour without relevant research.”
Simpson added Goupie couldn’t agree more that we need to protect the Rainforests, and the wildlife that inhabits them, but palm oil itself isn’t the problem.
“We believe it’s time to get to the root cause of these issues, and resolve them. Too many companies jump on the bandwagon as a publicity stunt without attempting to understand the underlying issues,” she said.
“As a company, we have also looked at eradicating palm oil from our supply chain. We looked at the alternatives for hard fats, required in our recipe to maintain that unique texture.
“Many of these included animal fats (butter, lard and ghee) which was not an option to us as we are determined to evolve all of our products to be vegan friendly in the next year.”
Vegetable alternatives include coconut oil, cocoa butter and margarine (which often includes palm oil and a host of other ingredients).
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According to Simpson when it looked at vegetable alternatives it became clear that this alone was not going to solve the problem.
“Putting cost aside, palm oil has the highest yield per km than all of these crops. If everyone suddenly switched to these alternatives, we would require even more space and undoubtedly find ourselves in a position where more and more land is being taken up by crop fields, including those Rainforests we’re desperate to protect,” she said.
“We decided the only viable option was to source the palm oil itself sustainably. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is the largest research organisation looking at tackling the fundamental issues surrounding sustainably farming this crop.
“We source our palm oil from the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, far away from those beautiful Orangutans in Indonesia.
“Our supplier’s accreditation means they can trace each batch to the small producer in each of those countries. It is not as simple as ‘stop using palm oil’, and that will save the Orangutans.”
Simpson added there are whole communities who depend upon growing this crop, it is their entire livelihood and how they put food on the table.
“Telling them we won’t buy palm oil is only going to cause them to come up with another crop to make their income from,” she added.
“This is a delicate matter and requires real attention and properly organised initiatives. It requires creating new ecosystems that are self-sufficient, outside of the rainforest and giving education to local communities.
“It might not be perfect, but by supporting initiatives such as RSPO, we can go some way to actually solving the issues, rather than blindly following the ‘Palm Oil is Evil’ bandwagon. This kind of scaremongering only goes far enough to put more money into the pockets of those willing to exploit the trend, but doesn’t tackle the issues themselves.”
According to Simpson, the farming of palm oil ‘is by no means near the state it needs to be in to protect our environment and the livelihoods of those involved in its production’.
“We know there are major and very complex issues there, but these need to be tackled head on. We need to look at why farming is being done in this way and how we can help those who are doing the farming to look at sustainable alternatives, which still support their families,” she said.
“Switching to alternatives will not solve this problem, in fact, it could make the problem worse.”
In conclusion, Simpson asked everyone to think about the foods they are eating and if they contain Palm Oil, where does it come from? Why has the manufacturer made that decision? How much do I consume, and could I waste less?
“We’re not saying we’re perfect, or even that the RSPO certifications are, but we feel it’s the best chance we have of moving towards sustainable production in the future,” she added.
Goupie is available in 18 flavors through Hider Foods, Suma Wholefoods, Diverse Fine Foods, Enterprise Foods and HF Chocolates, or online from Goupiechololate.com