This February our Innovation and Technical Director (Tom Hollands) attended the TUCO Sustainability Palm Oil Forum. The forum brought together a large range of catering and sustainability experts from across the UK, to listen to the most up to date evidence on the impact made by palm oil supply chains on social issues, environmental issues and sustainability.
The day started with a whistle stop tour of the chemistry behind fats and oils and how the chemistry can be altered so that fats and oils can be used over a host of applications, either the creamy mouth feel in ice-creams, the melt in your mouth sensation with custard creams and even the moistness in wet wipes!
What became clear very quickly was that palm oil has a significant range of different applications, from tooth paste to pet products, from cosmetics to cupsoups and although it only accounts for just 6.6% of land use for growing vegetable oils, it provides over 38.7% of global production of oils and fats!
Therefore, palm oil is the highest yielding vegetable oil and uses up to 10 times less farming land than alternatives – the reason? Palm fruit can be harvested every 10 days, the same plant can be harvested hundreds and hundreds of times over 25 years, whereas sunflower oil, soya oil and the others only have a single harvest.
The crystal clear message from this event, especially from TUCO, RSPO, Orangutan Land Trust, EFECA and even Chester Zoo was NOT to boycott palm oil, rather only source sustainable palm oil, such as those certificated to the RSPO standard. This is because the palm oil produced from sustainable plantations are more sustainable – remember palm oil uses up to 10 times less farming land than alternatives. Alternative sources will require more deforestation, especially pertinent when trying to maintain bio-diversity and populations of Orangutans.
Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of families relies on these sustainable plantations for their income, education (an aspect of the RSPO certification) and welfare (worker rights) – its by far the cheapest and most sustainable oil in established RSPO farms. By boycotting palm oil, it would impoverish millions of children and put back years of positive poverty progress that has been made.
Raynor Foods Ltd is ahead of the curve in this respect, all our products that contain palm oil (such as our fresh bread) comes from RSPO certificated sources since 2016! However, we also have a Palm Oil reduction programme, which achieved an overall 45% reduction in palm oil use across our entire range of products in 2018. The TUCO forum made abundantly clear that even with absolute good intent, our programme could be having unintended consequences, so we must change. Therefore, with immediate effect we have discontinued our Palm Oil Reduction Programme.
Instead we will look to engage with our customers and consumers, help them understand the new course, the reasons why and how important it is that we work together. Additionally, we are committing to obtain RSPO certification and joining the growing ranks of businesses and organisations pushing in the same direction, so together we drive positive change for our world.
The ‘war on plastic’ is at the forefront of the environmental debate at the moment thanks to ‘the Blue Planet effect’.
The final episode of Blue Planet II showed the shocking impact single use plastics are having on marine life and a call from David Attenborough to do more to protect the environment.
Blue Planet pulled no punches in showing the shocking effect created by single use plastic. People immediately sat up and demanded the ban of plastic such as straws, coffee cups and plastic cutlery.
As a result, the food industry is particularly under pressure to reduce their contribution.
Environmental protection is something we take seriously at Raynor Foods. We’re a zero waste to landfill factory, recycling all our waste and sending our food waste to a local anaerobic digester to be turned into energy to power Chelmsford.
As well as this, we source what we can locally, to reduce our food miles, use reusable plastic boxes with suppliers (cardboard can only be recycled 3 times) and send our bread crusts to feed the pigs at Wicks Manor Farm.
We are often asked about our packaging and all of it is 100% recyclable, including the plastic film. All local councils ask is that you shake out any food waste before putting it into the recycling.
The next wave in sandwich wedge design, is being able to provide biodegradable packaging. It’s something we’re receiving increasing enquiries about and know it’s a growing demand from customers and consumers alike.
We are constantly testing and looking into biodegradable packaging, so far it has been difficult to find biodegradable packaging which is able to keep a sandwich fresh for long enough, and quality is something we don’t compromise on. We are always testing new options that come to the market and hope to transfer our sandwich wedges to a biodegradable alternative to make them even more environmentally friendly.
With increasing pressure on the food industry to reduce the use of plastic, we can expect to see a reduction in the plastic we see in supermarkets and food producers over the coming years. As a nation of animal lovers, it just took a nature documentary to make us all see sense.