There’s great news this week for everyone except the people producing tons of unsustainable palm oil: Customers are jumping ship right and left, swearing off of the processed food grease that has become the top cause of deforestation in Southeast Asia.
Dunkin’ Donuts has agreed to phase out the palm oil it stuffs into its sweet, fatty pastry rings. The move came under pressure from the green-minded comptroller of New York state, Tom DiNapoli, who leveraged the state’s investment in Dunkin’ to bring about the change, 350.org-divestment-campaign style.
From the New York Times’ City Room blog:
The comptroller is best known for his role overseeing the state’s pension fund, not for pushing for breakfast-food reform. But in this case, the goals are one and the same: as of last week, the pension fund owned 51,400 shares of Dunkin’ Brands Group worth about $2 million, and Mr. DiNapoli seeks to prod companies in which the fund invests to embrace sustainable practices …
“Consumers may not realize that many of the foods and cosmetics they eat and use contain palm oil that has been harvested in ways that are severely detrimental to the environment,” Mr. DiNapoli said in a statement. “Shareholder value is enhanced when companies take steps to address the risks associated with environmental practices that promote climate change.”
Ironically, Dunkin’ had switched to using palm oil as a kind of healthy alternative (ha) during the Great Transfat Scare of the Mid-Aughts.
This week Norway, too, announced it has divested from Asian palm oil completely, due to environmental concerns. Reuters reports:
“We are very happy with this development in the palm oil sector,” said Nils Hermann Ranum, of Norway’s branch of the Foundation.
Still, he said that Norway should do more to pull out of other sectors that cause deforestation, such as logging companies, oil and gas firms, soy and meat producers.
Palm oil’s gotten too big for its own greasy britches, sending prices into the toilet as the market is “struggling to generate more demand,” according to Bloomberg. Struggle away, palm oil! We’ll find other ways to fatten up our terrible treats.