Palm oil is the most commonly used vegetable oil in the world. However, consumers are becoming more aware of the negative environmental impact associated with palm oil production and food companies are starting to respond to their concerns. Enjoy Life Foods, an allergy friendly CPG food producer, is the first food company to receive the new palm oil-free certification from the International Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Programme (POFCAP).
The Chicago-based brand received this certification for their new Grain and Seed bars, which are the first palm oil-free products made by Enjoy Life. The company will be reformulating their protein bites without palm oil as well and will be certifying and launching these products in June.
“Our goal is to demonstrate that there are opportunities to create delicious foods without having to utilize an ingredient that increasingly more consumers are looking to avoid,” Joel Warady, Enjoy Life Foods’ General Manager and Chief Marketing officer, told Food Dive. “While several global food brands have made commitments to source sustainable palm oils — ourselves included — we believe that we can take our quest for sustainability to the next level.”
According to the Rainforest Action Network, palm oil is used in over 50 percent of all consumer goods. However, the demand for palm oil increased by 485 percent in the last decade, which led manufacturers to grow palm tree crops in rainforests because of their tropical temperatures. This makes palm oil cultivation one of the key contributors to rainforest destruction and climate change, according to the organization.
The POFCAP was established in August 2017 in an effort to encourage companies to reduce their palm oil use. It is currently the only international palm oil-free certification program for food companies in the US, UK, Spain, Austria and Sweden, the organization has also sent applications to nine other countries. So far POFCAP has certified 239 products and five companies.
“POFCAP team members have been involved with the highly complicated issue of palm oil for about a decade,” Co-founder and Program Manager Bev Luff told Food Dive. “Many companies make their own palm oil-free claims and until now there was no international, independent, government-approved certification program, so we developed one.”
Enjoy Life Foods offers a variety of products that contain palm oil but the company claims to only source their palm oil from certified sustainable producers. Other well-known brands and companies committed to using certified sustainable palm oil are Nutella, Unilever and Starbucks.
“When we first became Certified Gluten Free, we were the first company to take this step. Now, there are thousands of brands that make this claim, and a new door has been opened for [the] gluten-intolerant and celiac community,” Warady said. “We feel this certification can carry a similar outcome, creating [a] cascading effect of companies committing to a more environmentally sustainable food future.”