Palm Oil Free List

A list of some UK products which are palm oil free or only use sustainable palm oil, from Ethical Consumer.

Palm oil is said to be found in 50% of supermarket products, from food to cleaners to cosmetics. It is a type of vegetable oil derived from palm oil fruit. This controversial ingredient may be present in some form in nearly every room of your home. It is widely used for its properties and because it is cheap. Its low price is partly due to its high yield, but also because, as with other mass produced crops, the environmental and social costs go unaccounted for.

Its production destroys rainforests and biodiversity. The plight of orangutans has been a key feature of palm oil campaigns, due to 80% of their habitat being destroyed in the last 20 years and the serious risk they face of extinction in our lifetime.

Social impacts are also wide ranging, and economic gains are far from evenly distributed. More than 20 million people, comprising hundreds of distinct language groups, depend on Indonesia’s forests. Many traditional communities have lost their lands to plantations.

Demand for palm oil has undergone a phenomenal growth and is expected to more than double by 2030 and triple by 2050. 

Image: Deforestation palm oil
Deforestation caused by Palm Oil Plantations, credit: Mighty Earth.

Which products contain palm oil?

The following products are just some of the products likely to contain palm oil:

  • Bread
  • Crisps
  • Soap
  • Ice Cream
  • Shampoo
  • Chocolate
  • Biscuits
  • Make Up
  • Non-dairy substitutes
  • Cooking Oil
  • Margarine
  • Cleaning Detergent

Spotting Palm Oil Derivatives

Much of the palm oil we consume appears in a number of processed forms, ‘derivatives’ of the oil itself.

These 500 or so different substances make up about 60% of global palm oil use. The names obscure the source, so it is hard to tell if you are consuming a product from palm oil or not.

Image: palm oil derivatives

But, as palm oil campaign site Selva Beat says: “the ultimate trick to being able to spot palm-oil derivatives in most things lies in recognising the building blocks”.

Memorising the four words below will help you spot over half of the fatty acid compounds that are often made from palm oil. Spotting an ingredient whose name includes one of these root words does not mean it is definitely made from palm, but is a clue which can be followed up by contacting the company.

There is a long list of some of the alternative names for palm oil derivatives on the Orangutan Foundation website. Again this doesn't mean that all these ingredients are definitely palm oil, (for instance E471 may be palm oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil or canola oil), but they could be.

Palm Oil Free List

We've put together a list of companies which receive our best rating for palm oil either for being a palm oil free company or for only using certified sustainable or organic palm oil. Plus, we list the products from the best-rated companies that are palm oil free.

(Those brands rated best for palm oil are not necessarily rated best for overall corporate responsibility.)

Supermarkets

Best rating for Palm Oil  

  • Waitrose
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Sainsbury's

Iceland has stated, "By the end of 2018, 100% of our own brand food will contain no palm oil. We are the first UK supermarket to commit to removing palm oil from all own brand food." When we are sure that this commitment has been implemented we will update Iceland's rating.

See supermarkets guide for companies' overall rating. 

Biscuits

Palm oil free biscuits:

Most likely those biscuits that are 'all butter' or the more expensive 'cookies'.

Company
 

Palm Oil Free Products
Island Bakery All biscuits
Traidcraft Half coated Chocolate Shortbread Finger, Geobakes Shortbread Biscuits, Shortbread Rounds
Bahlsen Choco Leibniz Milk, Dark and Orange Chocolate, Leibniz Butter, Leibniz Zoo, Choco Moments
Walkers All shortbread, plus All Butter Sultana, Gingerbread Man Tin, Mini Oat Biscuits, Mini Belgian Choc Chip, Oat Shortbread, all 'Thins'. 
Waitrose

all Waitrose 1 biscuits except Belgian white chocolate & lemon biscuits, all Waitrose Duchy Organic biscuits

Plus: Mini oat biscuits, Continental dark chocolate butter biscuits, Continental milk chocolate butter biscuits, Viennese vanilla swirls, All butter vanilla Viennese swirls, Chocolate Viennese fingers, Butter almond Viennese swirls, Belgian Double Chocolate Cookies

M&S  All varieties of ‘All Butter Cookies’. All shortbread.

Plus: White Chocolate & Sicilian Lemon Cookies, Chocolate Coated Peanut Butter & Choc Chip Cookies, Sticky Ginger & Lemon Drizzle Cookies, Viennese Milk Chocolate Dipped Fingers, All Butter Viennese Swirls, Mini Oat Biscuits, All Butter Biscuits, Strawberries & Cream Drizzle Cookies, Milk Chocolate, Pecan & Salted Caramel Florentines, All Butter Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers, Belgian Milk Chocolate Florentines, Belgian Dark Chocolate & Ginger Florentines, Belgian Chocolate Chunk Cookie

Best company rating for palm oil:

  • Palm oil free company - Island Bakery
  • Use organic palm oil - Against the Grain, Doves Farm, Waitrose Duchy Organic
  • Use FairPalm - Traidcraft
  • Use certified sustainable palm oil -  Bahlsen, Walkers, M&S, Waitrose, Mrs Crimble's, Fox's, Burton's Biscuits (Jammie Dodgers, Lyons, Maryland, The Edinburgh Bakery, Viscount, Wagon Wheels). 

See our biscuits product guide to see how the companies compare on their overall corporate responsibility. 

Bread

Company Palm Oil Free Products
Biona all bread
Weight Watchers all bread
Warburtons Danish White, all gluten free bread
Waitrose all Waitrose 1 bread, Essential Wholemeal medium sliced, Duchy Organic Wholemeal Batch and Wholemeal seeded bloomer, Wholemeal Farmhouse medium, Wholemeal & Rye Cob, Malted Grain Cob, Sunflower & Pumpkin Cob, Ancient Grains & Oat Cob, Light Rye Boule, White Boule, Seeded Spelt Wheat, Ancient Grains Loaf, Stonebaked Grand Mange, Duchy Organic seeded brown bloomer, Duchy Organic Wholemeal bloomer

Best company rating for palm oil:

  • Biona - use organic palm oil
  • M&S
  • Waitrose
  • Jackson's
  • Weight Watchers
  • Warburtons

See our bread product guide to see how the companies compare on their overall corporate responsibility.

Pet Food

Palm Oil Free Products

Ami, Beco, Benevo, Yarrah, Burns, Meowing Heads, Harringtons, Wagg, Barking Heads, V-Dog, Applaws, Encore, Lily's Kitchen, Eukanuba, Iams

Best company rating for palm oil:

  • Use certified sustainable palm oil - Waitrose

See our dog food guide and cat food guide to see how the companies compare on their overall corporate responsibility.

Nut Butters

Company  Palm Oil Free Products
Suma    all palm oil free, all organic, some Fairtrade too
Meridian all palm oil free, some organic
Whole Earth

 100% Peanuts organic

Biona all palm oil free, all organic
Raw Health

all palm oil free, all organic

Essential all palm oil free, all organic

Best company rating for palm oil: 

  • Palm oil free company - Meridian
  • Use certified sustainable palm oil - Biona, Essential, Raw Health, Suma, Whole Earth, Waitrose, M&S

Chocolate Spread

Company Palm Oil Free Products
Waitrose 1 Dark Chocolate Spread 
Mr Organic    all palm oil free and organic and dairy free 
Biona all palm oil free and organic

Best company rating for palm oil

  • Palm oil free company - Mr Organic
  • Use certified sustainable palm oil - Plamil (organic & vegan), Essential (organic), Biona (organic), Traidcraft (FairPalm), Vivani (organic), Nutella, Waitrose, M&S

Chocolate bars, snack bars, boxes and gift chocolates

Company Palm Oil Free Products
Divine All chocolate (After Dinner thins, Chocolate Bar Selection, Belgian Chocolate Collection) buy from Ethical Shop >
Booja Booja all chocolate (truffles) buy from Waitrose >
Cocoa Loco all chocolate go to their online shop >
Montezuma all gift chocolate go to their online shop >
Seed & Bean all chocolate  buy from Ethical Shop >

Chocolat Madagascar

all chocolate

Pacari

all chocolate

Madecasse

all chocolate

Moo Free

all chocolate

The Raw Chocolate Company

all chocolate

Plamil

all chocolate
Vivani most chocolate is palm oil free except Espresso Biscotti and Milky Creme bars
M&S

Bars and Snack Bars:

Dark Chocolate with Ginger, White Chocolate Mountain Bar, Dark Chocolate Mountain Bar, Milk Swiss Chocolate Mountain Bar, Fruit & Nut Milk Chocolate Mountain Bar, Extra Fine Swiss Dark Chocolate Discs, Extra Fine Milk Chocolate Discs, Extra Fine Milk Swiss Chocolate with Hazelnuts, Extra Fine Dark Swiss Chocolate, Extra Fine Milk Swiss Chocolate, Dark Chocolate 72%, Latte Coffee Kick Bar, Hazelnut Praline, Swiss Chocolate, The Dark One, The White One, Milk One, Turkish Delight, Dark Chocolate with Italian Orange, White Chocolate With Vanilla, Intense Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocoalte Single Origin Dominican Republic, White Chocolate, Raspberry & Matcha Bar, Single Origin Ecuadorian 72% Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate with Mint, Italian Milk Chocolate Gianduja, Italian Gianduja Bar with Whole Hazelnuts, Dark Choc S/O Madagascar 71%, Single Origin Colombian White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate Slab, Sea Salt Caramels

M&S Gift Boxes:

Neapolitans, Milk Chocolate Truffles, Australian Milk Chocolate Coated Ginger, Assorted Chocolate Malt Balls, Marc de Champagne Truffles, Dulce de Leche Truffles, Cocoa Dusted Liquid Salted Caramels, Hand Decorated Nut & Fruit Mendiants, Peppermint Creams, Sparkling Caramels, Pink Marc De Champagne Truffles, Dark Chocolate Marzipan, Single Malt Whisky Truffles, Italian Gianduiotto, Gin Chocolate Collection, Swiss Chocolate After Dinner Collection

Waitrose All Waitrose 1 chocolate bars, Belgian fruit & nut milk chocolate, Chocolate ginger, Dark chocolate mint creams

Best company rating for palm oil:

  • Booja Booja (palm oil free company),
  • Divine (palm oil free company),
  • Seed & Bean (palm oil free company)
  • Montezuma (palm oil free company),
  • Cocoa Loco (palm oil free company),
  • Chocolat Madagascar (palm oil free company)
  • Pacari (palm oil free company)
  • Madecasse (palm oil free company)
  • Moo Free (palm oil free company)
  • The Raw Chocolate Company (palm oil free company)
  • Biona (organic palm oil)
  • Vivani (organic palm oil)
  • Plamil (organic palm oil)
  • Waitrose
  • M&S

Read our ethical shopping guide chocolate for companies' overall rating for corporate responsibility.

Butter, Margarine & Spreads

Company Palm Oil Free Products
Yeo Valley all butter and spreadable butter 
M&S    all butters and Slightly Salted spreadable butter 
Waitrose   all butter including Duchy Organic

There are no margarines and spreads that are palm oil free, only butters and spreadable butter. So those avoiding dairy should choose a product from one of the five companies getting our best rating for palm oil.

Best company rating for palm oil:

  • Suma
  • Biona (uses organic palm oil)
  • Yeo Valley
  • Waitrose
  • M&S

Read our ethical shopping guide to spreads for companies' overall rating for corporate responsibility.

      Breakfast Cereals

      Company Palm Oil Free Products
      Rude Health  all cereals
       MOMA  all cereals
       Infinity Foods  all cereals
      Hodmedod's  all cereals
      Alara all cereals
      Essential all cereals
      Doves Farm all Freee gluten free cereals
      Kallo  all cereals
      Whole Earth  Cornflakes, Maple Frosted Flakes, Muesli
      Mornflakes  all oats and mueslis
      Suma De Luxe, Fruit Burst, Multigrain gluten free, Nutty Crunch, Simple Base and Swiss Twist mueslis; Berry Burst, Cacoa Crumble, Nutty Crumble granolas
      Traidcraft GeoMuesli Fruit & Nut
      Amisa all cereals except Spelt Crunchy
      Biona Amaranth Pops, Honey Hazel Granola, Amaranth Wild Berry Museli, Fruit Muesli
      Biofair Quinoa Pops

      Best company rating for palm oil

      • Rude Health - palm oil free company
      • MOMA - palm oil free company
      • Infinity Foods - palm oil free company
      • Hodmedod's - palm oil free company
      • Traidcraft - Fairtrade palm oil
      • Amisa - organic palm oil
      • Biona - organic palm oil
      • Biofair - organic palm oil
      • Doves Farm - organic palm oil
      • Essential
      • Alara
      • Kallo
      • Whole Earth
      • Mornflake
      • Suma

      How we rate companies for Palm Oil policy

      Companies will receive one of the following ratings in our Palm Oil column on our scorecards:

      Worst rating

      Companies using no or minimal certified palm products, and with no or minimal positive commitments score a worst rating.

      Middle rating

      The minimum that needs to be achieved for a middle rating is a fully certified supply chain, or a partially certified supply chain with other positive commitments met, such as disclosure of suppliers.

      Best rating

      • Companies able to demonstrate a fully certified supply chain for all palm ingredients used by the whole company group, and who also declare suppliers and volumes will receive a best rating.
      • Companies that are palm oil free - using neither palm oil (CPO), palm kernel oil (PKO) nor palm derivatives - will also receive a best rating.

      Consumer Power 

      As consumers we need to use our power at the check out to continue to drive change in the palm oil industry. Pushing companies to buy certified sustainable palm oil is one clear way of doing this.

      There is a growing recognition that even if all the big western manufacturers stopped using palm oil, the problems of unsustainable production would not go away.

      India and China each consume more palm oil than the EU, and production is projected to increase 50% by 2020. At the same time, Indonesia has just increased subsidies to boost palm oil production for biofuel.

      If countries with more developed consumer campaigns turn away from palm oil altogether, the most damaging forms of production may prevail.

      Buy or Boycott?

      Consumers increasingly want to avoid the ingredient where possible, but it's a tricky task as it's used in so many products - more than 50% of packaged supermarket products from margarine and oven chips to soaps and detergents. 

      We are urging readers to boycott products from companies that aren't using 100% responsibly sourced palm oil now. Promising to source responsibly in the future is no longer good enough. You may also choose to avoid products containing any palm oil, whether it be sustainably sourced or not.

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