Iceland has been slated by campaign groups over its decision earlier this month to ban palm oil from its supply chain.
After becoming the first major retailer in the UK ban it entirely, many environmental groups celebrated the move, which was made to reduce the impact of the palm oil trade on the rainforests and endangered species in Malaysia and Indonesia, where 90 per cent of the product is produced.
However, the Human Faces of Palm Oil have disputed Iceland’s strategy arguing that palm oil is vital for poor farmers in the region.
The group, which represents various organisations including the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, said in a social media campaign that 650,000 small farmers depend on the production of palm oil, and that that substance takes up far less space than other oils.
Palm oil is currently used in around half of all products in supermarkets and has been widely criticised as a main driver of deforestation.
Although Iceland declines to comment, managing director Richard Walker said in a blog post that Iceland was “not against palm oil. What we are against is deforestation.
“There has certainly been no shortage of debate since we made our announcement, and I am pleased by the worldwide attention we have achieved.”
In a statement made earlier this month amid the announcement of Iceland’s new strategy Walker said: “Certified sustainable palm oil does not currently limit deforestation and it does not currently limit the growth of palm oil plantations.
“So until such a time as there is genuinely sustainable palm oil that contains zero deforestation, we are saying no to palm oil.”