Recognising palm oil in the products that we consume isn’t as easy as we might think. The obvious would be to look for the word ‘palm’ – and of course, we aren’t wrong to do that, but that’s not the only word we should be looking out for.
There are many palm oil derivatives out there; so we need to be able to recognise what words to look out for in the ingredients section on a product label. We are going to specifically talk about chocolate in this case; but you can apply this to any product!
The 4 Main Palm Oil Derivatives
There are four main names for palm oil that you may find on the back of a label:
These names make up about 60% of global palm oil use; and although these names are frequently used on the back of labels, they might not always refer to palm oil. However; they are the firm foundations that make up the fatty acids that palm oil can be made into, and we should be cautious.
Although this is a great start, there are actually over 200 different names for palm oil; you can find the full list here: https://www.palmoilinvestigations.org/names-for-palm-oil.html.
Palm Oil in Chocolate
Specifically in chocolate, there are a few common ways that companies display the use of palm oil in their ingredients:
Vegetable fats (palm, shea)
Refined Palm Kernel Oil
Palm Oil Free Chocolate
We decided that as of 2019, all of our own branded products would be completely free from palm oil. We feel that in the chocolate industry, we do have choices – we could go along the route of using palm oil as a cheaper alternative to cocoa butter, and sell our products for much less. However; we don’t feel there is any need to use any form of cocoa butter replacer, as buying the cocoa butter supports cocoa farmers all over the world, and stops the use of unnecessary palm oil.
As a chocolate business, we understand that there are many products that need to use palm oil, and that completely stopping the use of palm oil would actually cause more problems. But we would encourage those companies to only use sustainable palm oil, so that the effects of its use are minimised. We do however believe that the use of palm oil in chocolate is unnecessary, as there is a perfectly suitable ingredient found within the cocoa bean itself (cocoa butter), that does not cause the same effects as palm oil does; and can also be grown sustainably.