‘Green palm oil’ claims land Cadbury’s in sticky mess

They are breaking open the chocolate bars at Auckland zoo in New Zealand this week. The keepers have been running a campaign to get Cadbury to remove palm oil from its chocolate. It’s been headline news down there, since Cadbury’s recently added the palm oil to make local Dairy Milk “softer”.

Zoo staff simply refused to consume or sell bars made with oil grown on former rainforest once occupied by endangered orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra. On Monday, Cadbury gave in. They grovelled. “We got it wrong… we hope Kiwis will forgive us. I’m really sorry,” said local managing director Matthew Oldham. They were going back to cocoa butter, he said.

Of course, this about-face doesn’t affect the brand in countries such as Britain, where palm oil is a long-standing ingredient. So Cadbury still looks like a soft target for campaigners.

But there was something else buried in this PR own goal. A continuing greenwash that should have Cadbury hauled over the coals at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a corporate initiative to promote the sustainable production of the world’s most ubiquitous food ingredient, of which Cadbury is a founder member.

On Monday, Oldham told New Zealanders that despite the debacle “Cadbury is a responsible business and we purchase certified sustainable palm oil.” The company has “independent GreenPalm certification for the palm oil purchased for its Dairy Milk range”.

The implication was that the zookeepers were wrong to fuss about Cadbury’s palm oil because they bought the right stuff. So who is right?

Read the full story on the Guardian website.

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