Purely Against Palm Oil

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Saving you from boring snacks whilst saving the planet too.

Ok. That’s a pretty bold statement to make, right?

While we’re not gallivanting across the globe, solving climate change and world hunger in one fell swoop, as a company we try and do all we can to support the local communities that grow the plantains for Purely Plantain Chips and do our best to help protect the planet and the environment. 

We pride ourselves on being a brand with a social conscience and other than supporting local farmers and communities in Ecuador, including a local orphanage, we have committed to never use palm oil in any of our products to help in the fight against deforestation.

Our hope is that by doing this, we will raise awareness of the environmental impact of palm oil production and enable and empower eco-conscious consumers to make informed decisions about the snacks they consume.

“We believe that businesses have a responsibility to drive positive change in the world,” said Stef Pellegrino, founder and CEO of Purely. 

“By refusing to use palm oil in any of our products, we are sending a clear message that deforestation along with other issues associated with palm oil production is unacceptable and that there are better choices. We want to inspire other companies to follow suit and join the fight against this destructive approach.”

What is palm oil?

Palm oil is a very versatile type of vegetable oil that is produced from the fruit of oil palm trees (Elaeis guineensis). There are two types of palm oil: crude palm oil (more commonly referred to as just palm oil) and palm kernel oil. 

Crude palm oil is made by squeezing the fleshy fruit of oil palm trees and palm kernel oil is made by crushing the kernels from the middle of the fruit, also known as the stone.

Why and how is palm oil used?

Palm oil has a variety of properties that help it perform a variety of functions, which makes it extremely versatile and therefore a much sought after ingredient for manufacturers around the world, hence the “need” for mass production and plantations. Because of its versatility, it is one of the most widely used vegetable oils on the planet.

The number one useful property of palm oil is that it is edible, so it can be used safely in almost any type of product. It is also completely odourless and colourless, which means that it can be added to products without altering their smell or appearance.

Palm oil remains semi-solid at room temperature and makes a good preservative as it is resistant to oxidation (the process responsible for the deterioration of food). These properties make it useful for extending the shelf-life of food products and keeping products like peanut butters and Nutella easily spreadable.

Palm oil remains stable at high temperatures, which can help give foods a crisp and crunchy texture when fried and, just like we use sunflower oil or olive oil, many parts of the world use palm oil in the kitchen for their cooking oil.

Palm oil is also an incredibly efficient crop. It produces more oil than any other vegetable oil crop per hectare. According to the WWF, palm oil production supplies 40% of the world’s vegetable oil demand using less than 6% of the total land used to produce all vegetable oils.

It is in almost half of all packaged goods in supermarkets - not just foods! You’ll find it in spreads, bread, confectionery, chocolate, toothpaste, shampoo, lipstick, deodorant… the list goes on and on.

If palm oil is so useful, why is it so bad?

For one thing, palm oil is high in saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease because it boosts bad cholesterol and triglycerides. 

One of the reasons why it is so widely used, in processed foods especially, is because the amount of trans fats - the most unhealthy of all fats - you could use in a product was severely limited in many countries, if not outrightly banned. So, many manufacturers sought alternatives, one of which was palm oil - a lesser evil in terms of healthiness. 

However, the unhealthiness of palm oil isn’t its main source of controversy. It is the way it is produced.

Because it is such an efficient crop, producing nearly 5 times as much oil as sunflower oil on the same area of land, and because of the variety of ways in which it can be used in products, the demand for palm oil quickly outpaced the number of available plantations.

Due to the high demand and with complete disregard for the environment, various species of animals, and even local inhabitants, some of the world’s most biodiverse forests were cut down to make way for new plantations.

Palm oil continues to be one of the largest driving forces behind deforestation, which puts many species of animals at risk, such as elephants, rhinos, tigers, and orangutans. Research has shown that Bornean Orangutan populations have decreased by more than 100,000, in part due to deforestation for palm oil plantations. 

The findings stated: 

“A comparison of distinct regions revealed that 50%, 60%, and 10% of the orangutans were affected by transformation into industrial oil palm or paper pulp plantations… Rates of orangutan decline were highest in areas deforested or converted to plantations (63%–75% loss)” 

Deforestation and the subsequent industrial conversion to plantations doesn’t just put huge numbers of animals at risk, it is also responsible for millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and climate change.

Many plantations are also created in underdeveloped countries where there is still a large problem with exploitation of workers and even child labour, creating further ethical issues with palm oil production.

Palm oil, while a versatile and efficient crop, has long been associated with deforestation (and by extension contributing to climate change), biodiversity loss, human rights abuses, and presents health concerns as a food ingredient. 

This is why, at Purely, we take a firm stance against palm oil and are committed to always using more ethical and sustainable alternatives to palm oil throughout our entire product range, promoting a more sustainable future for both consumers and the planet.

Purely Plantain Chips now proudly bear the “Palm Oil Free” label, providing you with a tangible way to recognise our stance and support deforestation.