Sustainable palm oil
shopping guide

3 tips from Teisha Lowry

Chances are we’ve all eaten or purchased products that contain palm oil, as it is the world’s most popular vegetable oil and comes from the fruit of the oil palm, Elaeis guineensis.

The global demand for unsustainable palm oil is one of the largest drivers of deforestation in Indonesia. Forest fires are deliberately lit to clear land space to plant palm trees, killing and displacing thousands of animals each year.

Only 20%

of palm oil is sustainably produced*


contain palm oil**

Products that may contain palm oil

Check the label


Cookies & cakes


Ice creams

Baked goods

Pre-packed meals

Instant noodles






Here are some tips:

  • If you see vegetable oil and a saturated fat content of 40% (or more) on the same package, then there is a good chance that the product contains palm oil.
  • Some brands are notorious for consistently using unsustainable palm oil in their products, then again there are some great brands making a difference. Take note of them to make your future shop even easier.

Palm oil is often disguised, hidden behind hundreds of names. Here are some palm oil-derived ingredients to look out for:

Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate.

Why not bookmark this page for the next time you shop?

Check back often. This site will be updated with more information and resources

There is good news!

There are ways to continue purchasing these products!

Look for the RSPO certification label which indicates that the palm oil was produced in a socially and environmentally friendly way.

Sustainable shopping

Thank you for making a big difference

By pledging to only use sustainably sourced palm oil, you encourage more businesses to make the switch by increasing the demand for it.

Encourage others to join you in making a difference by sharing the pledge you made!


Why not ban palm oil?

As an organisation working on the ground in Indonesia we believe a total ban on palm oil  isn’t the best option to resolve the issue. Palm oil is cheap to produce, has many desirable qualities for a variety of product uses, and is deeply intertwined with the local economies and  livelihoods of the people in Indonesia.

According to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, (RSPO), in Indonesia alone, there are 16 million workers in the palm oil supply chain, of which 3.78 million are plantation workers.

It also produces the highest yield, which is why sustainably produced palm oil is regarded as the most sustainable of the vegetable oils – including rapeseed, sunflower, and soybean oil. If palm oil production were to cease it would create a cascade effect causing other vegetable oils with lower yields to ramp up their production, with their own ecological footprint.

This is why we see the growth of the sustainable palm oil industry as the best path forward for Indonesia, its people, its biodiversity, and the world.

I hear people say that there’s no such thing as sustainable palm oil. Is this true?

No, a thriving sustainable palm oil industry exists today. The sustainable palm oil industry produces the product that is so valuable to our daily lives while drastically minimising harm to local communities or the environment. To achieve this, major palm oil producers have in the past few years adopted policies that promise no deforestation, no peat development, and no employee exploitation.

Many of these requirements are reflected in what is widely considered to be the industry’s most comprehensive way to identify sustainable palm oil: the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) certification system.

What if I can’t determine if a product contains palm oil?

Laws around the world vary, so it is important to look up how palm oil is required to be labelled where you live.In the UK, if a consumable product contains palm oil, it must be included in the ingredients list. Almost all products that have made the correct decision to move away from unsustainable palm oil will label this accolade on their packaging. You can look for the RSPO logo, or for statements that this product is palm oil free.

If you can’t find either of these, and palm oil isn’t clearly labelled on the ingredients list, it is important to know that companies hide the use of palm oil under many other names. Common deceptive names are “vegetable oil blends”, “palm fruit oil”, and “Vegetable Glycerin”. Here is a list of alternate names to assist you.

Cosmetics are particularly hard to identify if palm oil is used. You can always ask an associate at a store or use an online chat feature for assistance. If they don’t know, at least they are learning that this is a concern for their customers. Every voice counts!

What should I do with products I already have containing unsustainable palm oil?

Don’t waste them! Finish them up and next time around look for a product with the RSPO certification label, or if there isn’t an alternative, find one that doesn’t use unsustainable palm oil. The list of good products grows daily.

You could also write to the companies who manufactured the products and tell them that because of their irresponsible palm oil policy, you will be using alternate products until they make the switch to a sustainably sourced oil. Encourage them to adopt better procedures, and never doubt consumer power, these companies use customer feedback to drive change.

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