November 2, 2009
just-food.com editor's weekly highlights
Food ingredients Europe 17-19 November 2009 Frankfurt, Germany
Growing consumer awareness has propelled the issue of sourcing sustainable palm oil up the food industry's agenda at breakneck speed.
Encouraged by a canny WWF campaign highlighting the industry's worst – and best – offenders, consumers and the media are increasingly coming to focus on the link between the issues of deforestation, the threat to wildlife and the products on supermarket shelves.
Some in the food industry have been quick to respond, with manufacturers falling over one another in a bid to highlight their various commitments to sourcing sustainable palm oil.
Last week kicked off with UK retailer Marks and Spencer joining the ranks of Unilever, Cadbury and Sainsbury’s when it proclaimed that it would use only sustainable palm oil in its products by 2015.
Swiss food giant Nestle was quick to follow suit , again setting 2015 as its deadline. Meanwhile, UK snack maker United Biscuits has said that it will rely on “sustainable and segregated” palm oil sources by 2011.
Nevertheless, there are those in the sector that have yet to address the issue face on, citing problems with supply and increased costs as barriers to action.
In October's just-food interview, senior food and agriculture officer for the WWF Adam Harrison suggested that the industry as a whole must act – and quickly.
"Frankly, there really isn't much of an excuse. At the very least, companies do need to sort out the supply chain and they do need to start buying the stuff,” he insisted.
And, with growing pressure from consumers – who are increasingly using the issue as a barometer to inform purchasing decisions – food manufacturers and retailers could find there are more than ethical considerations forcing their hands.
Until next time...
Dean Best, Managing Editor
The International Food & Drink Expo India 2009 is the must attend event for India's food, drink and hospitality professionals, who will have the opportunity to source new products and innovations as well as learning the latest developments in the industry.
With increasing pressure being placed on product development and innovation, it is essential for any business to understand changing consumer trends and the impact these can result in.
How to source palm oil is vexing the minds of many in the food industry. Growing consumer awareness of the links between palm oil, deforestation, the threat to wildlife and products on supermarket shelves is encouraging manufacturers and retailers to look for sustainable sources. However, only a few have grasped the nettle and, as Adam Harrison, senior food and agriculture officer for the WWF tells Dean Best, the industry needs to do much, much more - and quickly.
Food commodity prices are seldom out of the news, due to a mushrooming global population, the food-for-fuel controversy, an increasing focus on sustainability and the continued growth of the organic sector. However, beyond the generality of crop prices spiralling to new highs in 2007 and 2008 and then plummeting - in some cases - back to where they were before the boom, the picture is far from uniform. This month's briefing looks at recent trends, projects, likely developments over the next few years and analyses what they mean for the global food-manufacturing sector.
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