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The quest to make Chester the first Sustainable Palm Oil City by 2020

Earlier this week Prep joined zoos, wildlife conservationists, politicians and leading food brands to discuss the UK food industry’s pledge to adopt sustainable palm oil by 2020.

The quest to make Chester the first Sustainable Palm Oil City by 2020

Chester Zoo and Chester MP Chris Matheson were joined by a diverse set of attendees from McDonalds to Marstons, from Aldi to the Sumatran Orangutan Society to also discuss the challenges and solutions faced by the bid to make Chester the UK’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City.

When opening the event, Science Director at Chester Zoo Simon Dowell stressed the ‘transformative effect’ of businesses working together to embrace sustainability.

Rachel Neale, senior marketing manager at AAK who is responsible for a number of brands including Prep, spoke about the need to raise the profile of sustainable palm oil in the industry as the “world’s highest yielding vegetable oil crop, using less than half the land required by alternative oil crops” and “kickstart the conversation in food service about sustainable solutions”.


“AAK is a founder member of the RSPO and secured the first shipment of certified sustainable palm oil into the UK in 2008,”she said


“In 2010, Prep was the first frying oil brand to support sustainable palm oil production via the GreenPalm programme. And all our Prep High Performance Frying Oils have been made using RSPO-certified palm oil since 2016. We can help our customers on every step of their journey towards sustainability.”


Collaboration across all industries is key. Chris Matheson MP spoke with feeling about a campaign that was rapidly gathering momentum and galvanised the room with his pride at the prospect of Chester becoming the first sustainable palm oil city but added the plea that “we can’t do it alone”.


Talking about the issues surrounding unsustainable production, Cat Barton, Field Conservation Manager at Chester Zoo, described sustainable palm oil as “the answer” along with more knowledge about sustainability, which is particularly low in the hospitality sector.


“This is not just about Chester, we need to take it to the national supplier level, help restaurants engage with the project,” she said.


The positives of sustainable palm oil use

Emily Fripp from EFECA  gave the room the detail of the Amsterdam Declaration – the UK Roundtable on Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil’s commitment to move towards a sustainable palm oil supply chain by 2020 - and the UK Government’s 25 year environment plan. She described how moving away from palm oil doesn’t solve the problem and how sustainable palm oil use is “about good business.”


Inke van der Sluijs from the RSPO reinforced sustainable palm oil’s potential for positive impact on the environment and local economies in the countries it is produced.

She explained:

 “Global demand for vegetable oil is growing fast with Palm oil the most widely consumed. It is used in everything once you start tracking. It is a very useful crop, but we have to produce it sustainably.”

Showing  a world map identifying the areas where people live below the poverty line she also defined the positive economic impact of the palm oil industry in Indonesia and Malaysia.

She reminded the audience:

“Don't forget its economic value, it lifts people out of poverty.”


Making the change


Emma Keller at WWF spoke about how palm is “on the public consciousness more than other commodities” and with it being  already 78% sustainable in UK there is a real chance it could be the first to 100%.


She concluded: “The public will only be assured when they see forests are being saved and good companies are being public about it.


“Don’t wait - 2020 is around the corner!”


Sustainability is one of the biggest issues in the foodservice industry today, so make sure you are thinking about what you need to do by 2020. Using Prep enables you to make claims about your responsible sourcing, but certain guidelines do apply. If this is something you’d like to do, please contact


AAK Foodservice (A Trading Division of AAK International)

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