A GROUP representing the palm oil industry has slammed UK supermarket chain Iceland Foods Ltd for releasing a viral commercial which attacked the product, amid the European Union’s long-standing plan to ban the commodity.
According to Bloomberg, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm oil, which comprised producers and sellers, said a boycott of palm oil would not stem deforestation, adding the company should instead work more closely with the industry to ensure it met sustainable standards.
Calling the commercial a ‘marketing gimmick’ RSPO Chief Executive Officer Darrel Webber said retailers should not oversimplify the issue.
“Palm oil needs to keep on proving how it’s doing better. It’s no use expecting the world will change overnight and not attack you,” Webber said.
“The way to address it is to keep telling people what the responsible players are doing. The market should work to support these kind of good actors, rather than painting everybody with the same brush.”
The cartoon video, which was voiced by actress Emma Thompson, depicts a young orang utan explaining to a girl that its habitat in the rainforest has been destroyed. The video went viral, garnering four million views on YouTube and another 15 million views on Facebook.
Palm oil plantations are among the biggest driver of deforestation, threatening the orangutan with extinction 🐒
Take a stance and enjoy a Rang-tan friendly Christmas this year.#NoPalmOilChristmas https://t.co/P8H61t6lWu
— Iceland Foods ❄️ (@IcelandFoods) November 9, 2018
On Twitter, the video carried the #NoPalmOilChristmas hashtag which was trending on the social networking site.
Iceland had pledged to remove palm oil from its own-label products such as pizza, potato chips and mince pie.
Iceland was banned from showing its Christmas advert on television because it has been deemed to breach political advertising rules.
The ban had spurred public outrage over the Green-peace animated short film, with some protesters collecting over one million signatures for an online petition calling for the advertisment to be aired on national television.
According to Reuters, the film was banned by Clearcast, the body which regulates television ads before they are broadcast as it appeared to have supported a political issue.
The supermarket chain has over 900 stores and specializes in frozen food, said it hoped the advert raised awareness on rainforest destruction caused by palm oil production. The ingredient is contained in 50 percent of all supermarket products.
“This year, we were keen to do something different with our much anticipated Christmas advert,” said Richard Walker, an Iceland managing director.
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“The culmination of our palm oil project is offering our customers the choice of an orangutan-friendly Christmas, and we wanted to reflect this in our advertising.
“Whilst our advert sadly never made it to TV screens, we are hopeful that consumers will take to social media to view the film, which raises awareness of an important global issue.
Walker also insisted the video was not a ‘gimmick’