Palm Oil Alternatives
Having examined the disadvantages of using palm for their oils, along with the devastation caused to animals and other plant species as a result of massive deforestation – we will now put forward some alternatives to using palm products.
If you’re looking to grow your own palms click here to see our recommendations.
Companies commonly try and cover their tracks and make it less obvious that they are using palm oil by using different wording. These are some of the most popular ones to look out for:
- Anything with the word “palm” in it (even if it’s not written as “Palm Oil”)
- PKO (Palm Kernel Oil)
- PHPKO (Partially hydrogenated Palm Oil)
- FP(K)O (Fractionated Palm Oil)
- OPKO (Organic Palm Kernel Oil)
- Sodium Laureth Sulphate (this can also be derived from coconut oil so it’s best to double-check)
- Elaeis Guineensis
- Glyceryl Stearate
- Hydrated Palm Glycerides
- Cetyl Palmitate
Have a look at this list so that you know which products NOT to buy.
Spreads Containing Palm Oil
The reason why palm oil is commonly used in spreads is because it has a neutral taste, remains semi-solid at room temperature and is stable upon heating.
Kraft are widely known for their peanut butter. Kraft are also known for merging with Heinz in 2015. This light and creamy peanut butter is particularly popular due to it having 25% less fat. However, when you dig a little deeper and look at the ingredients it’s clear to see that it isn’t the healthiest option for our bodies or the environment.
The ingredients in Kraft include:
Select Roasted Peanuts, Soybean Oil, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Cotton Seed and Rapeseed Oil), Salt, Mono, and Diglycerides. (1004L)
The hidden palm oil ingredient here is the ‘hydro-generated vegetable oil’. So, although it’s not one of the first ingredients – The palm oil is still there. Kraft do not use a lot of palm oil but, they have been called out in the past as one of the worst companies when it comes to sourcing palm oil ethically. Furthermore, hydro-generated vegetable oil is definitely one that we should be avidly avoiding due to the hydro-generation transforming unsaturated fatty acids into saturated fatty acids. This ingredient actually supplies your body with trans fat (an especially bad form of fat) which in turn raises your cholesterol levels.
Promite is a spread made from vegetable and yeast extracts – It is often compared to Vegemite and Marmite.
The ingredients in Promite include:
Vegetable Protein Extract, Sugar, Yeast Extract, Water, Colour (Caramel(E150C)), Cornflour (from Wheat), Salt, Glucose Syrup (From Wheat), Onion, Emulsifier (Glycerol Monostearate), Thickeners (Modified Cornstarch, Vegetable Gum (Carrageenan)), Food Acid (Citric), Spice Extract.
You may be wondering, where is the palm oil? The palm oil in Promite is actually listed as ‘vegetable protein extract’ – Making it the first ingredient.
Drinks Containing Palm Oil
Quick Overview: Schweppes, Fanta, Pepsi, 7Up
Mountain Dew is commonly described as having a unique and citrus-like flavour, making it a lot different from many sodas/energy drinks on the market.
The Ingredients in Mountain Dew Include:
Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Concentrated Orange Juice, and Natural Flavours, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preserves Freshness), Caffeine, Sodium Citrate, Gum Arabic, Erythorbic Acid (Preserves Freshness), Calcium Disodium EDTA (to protect flavor) and Brominated Vegetable Oil, Yellow 5.
The palm oil in Mountain Dew is actually listed as ‘Brominated Vegetable Oil’ commonly known as ‘BVO’ – This ingredient is actually banned as a food additive across Europe. BVO is used in order to prevent the citrus flavouring from separating out in sodas and food. BVO is considered to be bad for your health due to the ingredient ‘bromine’ – This ingredient is known to irritate the skin and mucous membranes. It has been reported that people that drink at least two liters a day of a drink containing BVO suffer from skin problems and memory loss.
Fanta is an extremely popular drink – It is owned by Coca Cola.
The ingredients in Fanta Orange include –
Carbonated Water, Sugar, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate (to protect taste), Modified Food Starch, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Fractionated Coconut and Palm Oil, Yellow #6, Ascorbic Acid (to protect taste), Glycerol Ester of Rosin, Red #40
Unlike the above brands, Coca Cola can be praised for listing palm oil for what it actually is. Unfortunately, they are still using palm oil that is not yet sustainable. However, they are making a commitment to be more and more sustainable each year and to be honest about the practices that they use.
Snacks Containing Palm Oil
Quick Overview: Oreo, Ritz, Belvita, Pringles, Cheetos
It’s only within the last year that the world has really woken up to the fact that Oreo uses palm oil as a key ingredient in their ‘wonder-filled biscuits’. Not only do they use (unsustainable) palm oil, they source it from one of the world’s largest and most unsustainable palm oil traders in the world – Wilmar.
The ingredients in Oreo include –
Wheat Flour, Sugar, Vegetable Oil (Palm), Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder 4.6%, Wheat Starch, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Salt, Raising Agents (Potassium Hydrogen Carbonate, Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate, Ammonium Hydrogen Carbonate), Emulsifiers (SoyaLecithin, Sunflower Lecithin), Flavouring (Vanillin)
Palm oil is Oreo’s third ingredient.
Products Containing Sustainable Palm Oil
As you have most probably gathered by now – palm oil is EVERYWHERE. It is in the vast majority of the products that you’re eating and in the objects that you use in your daily life. It can be disheartening to know that our everyday items are destructive for our home (even more so when you feel it’s unavoidable). However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. More and more companies are getting reprimanded for the way they use palm oil and are making the steps to ditch palm oil completely or use it in a much more sustainable fashion (a huge improvement and far less detrimental for our planet).
Spreads Containing Sustainable Palm Oil
Quick Overview: Nutella, Essential Waitrose, Sainsbury’s Own Brand, Tescos Own Brand, M&S
Luckily, there are many spreads that don’t contain unsustainable palm oil, one of them being – Nutella. This lovely hazelnut flavoured spread is one that you can continue to buy in bulk without feeling guilty when spreading it on your toast or dunking your finger in after a night out.
The ingredients in Nutella include –
Sugar, Modified Palm Oil, Hazelnuts, Cocoa Powder, Skimmed Milk Powder, Whey Powder, Soy Lecithin, and Vanillin.
Of course, the palm oil in Nutella is the second ingredient written as ‘modified palm oil’. Modified palm oil is adjusted to ensure the best consistency for spreading. Also, the modifying process actually reduces the levels of saturated fat.
If you’re a fan of peanut butter then you don’t have to worry about going without. Unlike Kraft peanut butter, Waitrose vow to use palm oil in a sustainable fashion. If you don’t live near a Waitrose supermarket then you can order the peanut butter from Amazon (phew).
The ingredients in Waitrose peanut butter include –
Roasted Peanuts (95%), Palm Oil, Sugar, Sea Salt.
Drinks Containing Sustainable Palm Oil
Quick Overview: Sainsbury’s Own Brand, Tescos Own Brand, Waitrose
Tescos Own Brand
If you are a fan of fizzy drinks and are yet to find a big brand that uses palm oil sustainably – Tescos have got your back. Thankfully, all of Sainsbury’s own brand drinks use sustainable palm oil so that you can still get your sugary fix without harming the environment.
The ingredients in Tescos own brand Coke include –
Carbonated Water, Barley Malt Extract, Fruit and Vegetable Concentrates [Apple, Carrot, Molasses], Phosphoric Acid, Flavourings (including Caffeine), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Sweetener (Sucralose), Citric Acid, Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrate)
Snacks Containing Sustainable Palm Oil
Quick Overview: Weightwatchers, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s Own Brand, Tescos Own Brand
Nothing reminds me of being younger like a pack of French Fries which is why I am SO glad that they use sustainable palm oil. They use palm oil sustainably for each and every flavour meaning you can stock up on them and be completely guilt-free.
The ingredients in French Fries include –
Potato Granules, Potato Starch, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Flavour Enhancer (Monosodium Glutamate), Colour (Annatto)
Visual List of Sustainable Palm Oil Products
We’ve put together a visual list here to make it easier to quickly take in and remember which brands and products use sustainable palm oil. Each image is linked to the product set.