The team here at Lewis pies and the Lewis bakery care about the environment. We moved to zero to Landfill and focus on minimising food waste. We are focusing on our energy efficiency at present and trying to reduce our impact whilst remaining competitive and growing our business.
The recent focus on Palm oil and the banned Iceland advert is something that we are acutely aware of. It’s been on our radar for a number of years. Half of the world use palm oil in their food, so a quick simple solution isn’t possible.
Our pastry is of course made with fats. All pastry is! We use fats that contain palm oil, most pastry does. Our fats are all contain RSPO certified palm oil. Palm oil is found in foods, cosmetics and household cleaners. Common products like bread, margarine, chocolate, noodles, pizza bases, soaps and vegan cheese. Its in an estimated 50% of the products found in our supermarkets. Alternatives such as coconut oil are over 5 times the price and other alternatives such as animal oils, rapeseed, sunflower etc often not suitable for product type. Moving away from palm oil as a manufacturer is very difficult.
Should we move, are the alternatives any better?
The one thing that becomes apparent in life is that things are rarely black and white. Whilst we would all like to reduce our environmental impact, is cutting out palm oil the right thing to do, or a knee jerk reaction to social media posts and a controversial advert. Could we do other things with bigger impact.
Before cutting the product out completely you should know a few things that might help you make informed choices.
- Palm oil is a highly productive crop and is often better than alternatives. Crops like soy, corn and rapeseed could be even worse because these crops are much more land-hungry. Which means we use more land to produce the same amount of oil! From one hectare of oil palms, about 3.7 tonnes of palm oil can be made every year. For a hectare of sunflowers this is only 0,7 tonnes of sunflower oil.
- There is a body called the RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) that certify palm oil produced. They have recently made their entry criteria much stricter however currently only 20% of all palm oil produced is certified by the RSPO. The RSPO is far from perfect but its the biggest and seemingly most robust organisation out there.
- Half of all the palm oil that is being imported by the EU is used to make biofuel. Therefore, the increase in biofuel is the main reason for the growing demand for palm oil. Makes you think doesn’t it!
- While it’s often said that palm oil specifically is the problem, it isn’t really. The real problem is the huge demand for vegetable oils and the lack of free agricultural land. Alternatives would generate the same problem.
- Palm oil is used in almost all types of animal feed. Therefore, by consuming animal products you contribute significantly to the palm oil industry, it is completely unnecessary to use palm oil in animal feed and it’s mainly added because it’s cheap.
- its estimated that Acres of rainforest cleared due to palm oil is 26 million compared to animal agriculture of 136 million!
Eliminating Palm oil is going to be very difficult, we ALL agree that reducing the use of these oils is a good thing: So how can we do that:
- Demand certified palm oil in products you eat – the consumer has incredible power!
- Consume less and get rid of your duplicates (do you need 4 bottles of moisturiser/shampoo)
- Think about the amount of meat you eat – this is likely to be having a bigger contribution to global issues than palm oil.
- Shop local. Locally produced and unprocessed foods are less likely to contain palm oil
What are Lewis pies doing:
As a manufacturer its tough but there are things that we can do and are doing
Lewis pies as a site are a member of the RSPO which means we only buy from sustainable sources.
All our Waste pastry is sent to biomass energy plants where its converted to energy so that the energy is used in a positive way.
ALL our oil is RSPO certified and our supplier EXCEED the standards set out. Our suppliers produce ALL of their own oil and dont buy in from any other non certified sources.
Our oil supplier are already on the road to having 30% of their product Rainforest Alliance certified and hope to achieve this next year.
We are drastically increasing the number of vegan and vegetarian lines that we produce to increase supply of alternative products for customers. In fact we currently dedicate 1 whole day a week to vegan and vegetarian products whilst the pastry still contains oils we are reducing meat usage.
Develop alternatives – we have developed pastry using coconut oil. This isn’t in main stream use yet but we will be offering it to customers in the coming years.
Thanks for reading!
I am far from an expert on the topic but have been interested to read the alternative points of view. Here are some interesting reads i have come accross.
Why im not boycotting palm oil this christmas or ever – https://lyndseystripped.com/2018/11/18/why-im-not-boycotting-palm-oil-this-christmas-or-ever/
Why Palm oil is worse but boycotting is worse – http://thegreenvegans.com/why-palm-oil-is-bad-but-boycotting-it-even-worse/
Facts about animal agriculture – https://ecomil.com/en/animal-agriculture/