Retailers Spar International, Auchan, Aldi and UK food giant Associated British Foods are today (28 October) among the companies told to "up their game" on their sourcing of palm oil.

The firms are among those who ranked the lowest on a "palm oil buyers scorecard" issued by the WWF, which is seeking to highlight the availability of sustainable palm oil.

Environmental campaigners have criticised the world's food companies for playing a part in destroying rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia through their sourcing of palm oil.

The WWF said it had assessed the performance of the 59 "most prominent" European manufacturers and retailers that use palm oil in products from ice cream to shampoo.

The organisation said it wanted to grade the companies after figures in May showed "only a small percentage" of the sustainable palm oil available was being bought.

Spar, Auchan, Aldi and ABF were among the companies handed a score of zero on their use of sustainable palm oil.

The WWF said the firms marked with a zero, which also included Metro Group and Belgian retailer Colruyt, need to "urgently" change how they source palm oil to keep up with competitors.

The campaigners said some of the zero-ranked firms had declined to respond to the WWF's request for information - prompting the group to give them a score based on data already in the public domain.

"Companies scoring zero are either showing no action on palm oil or even declined to respond to requests for information," the WWF said. "These companies really need to up their game, and WWF is willing to help them do so."

Several companies emerged from the WWF survey in a better light. UK retailers Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer, as well as food giants Unilever and Cadbury, were among the survey's top scorers.

"The top-scoring companies have shown what's possible, with some buying fairly substantial quantities of CSPO, but now it's a question of whether the majority will follow," said Adam Harrison, WWF's senior policy officer for food and agriculture.

"If they do, it will transform the market, giving producers the confidence to grow more sustainable palm oil. If they don't, there will be grave consequences for the environment."