General Mills, the US company behind brands like Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Nature Valley snack bars, has set a target of using only "palm oil from responsible and sustainable sources" by 2015.

The company said its use of palm oil was "modest" and accounted for around 0.1% of its production.

However, General Mills believes companies like itself could have an impact on the issue. "We acknowledge that responsible users of even small amounts of ingredients can impact issues via principled purchasing practices," it said on Wednesday (22 September).

Palm oil is becoming a hot issue among food manufacturers and retailers due to growing pressure from NGOs and increasing awareness among consumers about the impact the sourcing of the ingredient can have on the world's rainforests.

As part of its commitment, General Mills said it had "integrated environmentally and socially responsible palm oil production into its assessment of suppliers, including direct review of their palm oil production and sourcing practices".