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6 January 2012 | Helen Gilbert
Warburtons is determined to achieve 100 per cent sustainable sourcing for palm oil used in its products by 2015.
The British baking firm set out the goal in its first online Corporate Responsibility Review, published yesterday. The family-run business uses approximately 1,000 tonnes of palm oil each year and claims it is ‘essential’ to the baking process because it enables them to achieve consistent texture and softness in their loaves.
But it expressed concern around the issues associated with palm oil use such as deforestation, problems for wildlife and potential infringement of the rights of local communities.
“Warburtons remains open to using alternatives to palm oil but, at the moment, none has proved practical or likely to be acceptable to consumers,” the report said. “So this remains a work in progress and pursuing a traceable, sustainable supply of palm oil looks like being the most effective solution.”
Of the palm oil used by Warburtons, 70 per cent is utilised directly in its baking process. The report showed that, as of 2011, 100 per cent of this was derived from segregated sustainable sources. The remaining 30 per cent consists of palm oil stearin used in added ingredients such as bread improvers and emulsifiers.
“Because this has a very complicated supply chain it is much more difficult to influence,” the report said. “We are trying, nevertheless, and have set a target of achieving 100 per cent sustainable sourcing for palm oil used in added ingredients by 2015.”
Last year the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) reported a strong rise in the use of RSPO-certified oil. The not-for-profit organisation stated the amount supplied had doubled in 2010 compared with the previous year.