(Nettavisen): In 2014, Rema removed palm oil in all products from its own brands, and stopped taking in product news that contained palm oil. The reason is that Rema did not want to contribute to deforestation of the rainforest.
– Cutting out palm oil is one of our heart’s desires. But now we have a temporary acceptance due to the lack of sunflower oil due to the Ukraine war, says Line Aarnes, category and purchasing director in Rema 1000, to Nettavisen.
Now a number of suppliers are changing the ingredients on several products, especially in the snacks category, and Rema has therefore decided to include these in its stores.
Below you can see the list of foods that now contain palm oil instead of sunflower oil, which Rema 1000 takes into its stores:
In addition to the items in the list above, there are three items where the supplier has replaced sunflower oil with a mix of palm oil, sunflower oil and corn oil. This applies to Pringles original 200 grams, Pringles paprika 200 grams, and Pringles sour cream & onion 200 grams.
Makes strict demands
Aarnes points out that they do not include product news that has palm oil as a solid ingredient.
– It is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain sunflower oil, and therefore the need to use palm oil will increase to avoid empty shelves, Aarnes explains.
It should be clearly stated on the list of ingredients, at least on own brands, when palm oil is used
– We are not happy that we have to bring in products with palm oil, but we have a close dialogue with the suppliers, says Aarnes.
The suppliers have to apply for permission to include palm oil in foods that are to be sold at Rema 1000, and Aarnes says that they set strict requirements for documentation to approve it.
– We also have a close dialogue with the Rainforest Fund, and act in line with their recommendations for how we can best handle this state of emergency, says Aarnes.
– Part of our responsibility
In the list of products that will have their recipe changed in the future, we find biscuits and potato chips. When asked if there will be more products on this list in the future, Aarnes answers that it is too early to say.
– How do you think it will affect sales that palm oil is used?
– It is important for us to be transparent, and that the customer can choose. The customer is our top manager, and we want to make it easier to make a choice, says Aarnes.
– Do customers care if it is palm oil or sunflower oil?
– There are probably different preferences for it. It is important for Rema to provide information about palm oil, and we believe that it is important for the customer that we do this so that they can choose, she says.
– Amplifies another problem
Nils Hermann Ranum, head of the zero deforestation program at the Rainforest Fund, says that they have mixed feelings about the exchange of sunflower oil with palm oil on a number of products as a result of the war.
– Although we know that the war in Ukraine leads to a shortage of several goods, including vegetable oil, we know that deforestation and clearing of the rainforest continues. Palm oil is one of the reasons for that, he says to Nettavisen.
– It is crucial that the food industry does not solve one problem by strengthening another, he points out.
Although the Rainforest Fund is concerned about the increased demand for palm oil, Ranum experiences that Norwegian food suppliers take deforestation seriously.
The rainforest in Southeast Asia has experienced violent deforestation over the past 20 years due to the establishment of palm oil plantations, Ranum says. He says that increased demand has contributed to more deforestation.
– We have told both Rema and the other large food chains that if it becomes relevant to use palm oil, they must demand that the palm oil used in products they sell does not come from palm oil plantations from a recently deforested area, he says.
Ranum points out that he experiences that Rema 1000 takes this seriously.