With Easter just around the corner, The Rainforest Foundation has teamed up with Ethical Consumer magazine to release a ranking of more than 70 UK chocolate brands to encourage companies to use more sustainably sourced palm oil.
The list ranks candy products on a scoring system of one to 20, with the higher being the better score. Companies that do not use palm oil or their derivatives score a perfect 20, while those that use it but make no substantial statements and are not members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil score zero. The ranking also uses a “Traffic Light System” to advise which products are the best to buy, with Green being the best, Yellow adequate and Red unsustainable.
The Green Light candies consist of seven chocolate products from as many different brands. Divine Chocolate and Booja Booja scored perfect 20s while the remaining five were rated between 15 and 13. Co-op and Sainsbury’s Chocolate scored 15 and 14, respectively. Both the Co-operative Group and Sainsbury’s, along with Nestlé, recently pledged to decrease their supply chain footprints by targeting products with the most GHG emissions, product waste, and water, energy and resource use.
Eighteen of the list’s candy products fell within the Yellow Light category, scoring between 13 and 8. Most of these mid-ranking chocolate products are made by Nestlé, Kraft and Tesco, and include Crunch Bars, Kit Kats, Smarties and Yorkies, to name a few.
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More than half of the listed chocolate brands received scores of seven or less, putting them in the Red Light, or least sustainable group. The majority of candy brands belonging to this category came from Mars, Kraft and Ferrero and includes such widely popular products as M&Ms, Twix, Snickers and Milky Way. The Rainforest Foundation advises against consumers purchasing these candy products.
Environmental groups such as the Rainforest Action Network have identified palm as a major accelerator of climate change due to growers slashing and burning rainforests to make room for palm oil plantations. As a result, several companies, including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, have begun to take actions to source only sustainable palm oil for their products.
Traditional candy products also are major cause for concern due to the growing obesity epidemic. Healthy candy company Unreal recently launched an “Easter Bunny Apology Tour” aimed at drawing attention to the unhealthy ingredients found in most popular candy products. The company says it has developed five different kinds of candies made with sustainably sourced, GMO-free, natural ingredients that can be profitably sold at the same price as traditional candy products.