Why can't we simply replace palm oil?
Although using other vegetable oils seems like a practical solution, it would actually create similar - if not even larger - environmental and social problems. Therefore, the best solution is to ensure you buy products that contain sustainable palm oil.
There is a misconception that these concerns can be addressed when companies simply stop using palm oil in their products. However, this is not as easy as it sounds for a number of reasons:
- Replacing palm oil with other types of vegetable oil (such as sunflower, soybean or rapeseed oil) would mean that much larger amounts of land would need to be used, since palm trees produce 4-10 times more oil than other crops per unit of cultivated land. This would result in serious environmental damage, with the risk that more forests would need to be converted into agricultural land.
- In producing countries, millions of farmers and their families work in the palm oil sector. Palm oil plays an important role in the reduction of poverty in these areas. In Indonesia and Malaysia, a total of 4.5 million people earn their living from palm oil production. Stopping the production of palm oil altogether would create significant problems for these people who support their families by working in this industry.
- Replacing palm oil with other types of oil is not always feasible due to palm oil’s unique properties as food ingredient. Using other oils would not give the products the same texture and taste that palm oil offers.