We have declared war on palm oil. It is in the sights of politicians, supermarket chains, ecologists, nutritionists, doctors … and society in general.
Reasons are not lacking. Its composition, rich in saturated fatty acids, is just the opposite of what is considered a ‘healthy ingredient’. However, it is the most used fat globally. And its consumption grows and grows. Already found in 50% of the products we consume.
Now that we are aware of the problem, it becomes necessary to face the enemy. It is time for a leader to take the lead in this social trend and direct the right strategy, using as weapons the exaltation of the healthy diet as the only way for humanity to live healthier for longer.
And it is precisely our country that should collect the witness of this leadership. Reasons we have left. Spain is the world’s largest producer and exporter of olive oil. Today, the most healthy fat. Every day we are witnessing the discovery of a benefit contributed by the consumption of this oil for health (prevention of various types of cancer, cholesterol, obesity, coronary, cardiovascular, degenerative diseases and a long etcetera).
Together with surrounding countries, Spain is the cradle of the world recognized as the healthiest diet, the Mediterranean. Unesco declared it as Good Intangible Heritage of Humanity and as the most appropriate way to fight against malnutrition and obesity worldwide.
In a country crowned by these virtues, we import about 400,000 tons per year of palm oil. Seriously, we are going to lose ground in favor of a fat, badly called oil, which is detrimental to health, causes deforestation, displacement of indigenous populations and risk of extinction of native species like the orangutan?
The truth is that some entities have already begun to take action, although many of them, are not a wake-up call. The parliamentary majority of the congress approved in April a non-legislative proposal (therefore without practical application) to phase out products containing palm oil in schools, health centers and sports facilities. It also urges the government to carry out legal reforms to prevent the promotion of consumption of products containing palm oil, by advertising or commercial hooks such as toys, stickers, etc.
This initiative was promoted after the European Parliament asked to restrict the import of palm oil. Its consumption has gone from 270,000 tons in 2000 to 3 million in 2016 (!) This request is also due to the deforestation it creates where it is grown. We have an example of its environmental impact in Malaysia, Indonesia, Africa and South America. And its cultivation grows at a rate of 10% per year.
Faced with the stir caused, there are several supermarket chains that have decided to take a step forward against palm oil.
In Spain, the most radical has been the chain of sale of organic food, SuperSano, which has removed all products containing palm oil. The consumer reaction did not wait. Its sales have increased by 20%.
Thus, the main Spanish distribution chains have also expressed their intention to carry out actions against palm oil. Mercadona, Día, Lidl, Auchan (Alcampo), Eroski, Carrefour and Hipercor, have declared that they will initiate actions to eliminate this ingredient from their own brands, whenever technologically possible and only use it with a certificate of sustainability.