Eat Cadbury and kill an orang-utan.

Posted by Bel. The time is 9:18pm here in Wellington, NZ.

You thought it was bad enough that Cadbury had dropped its king-size chocolate bars from 250gm to 200gm, without changing the price.

So what if you knew that also in each and every one of those lightweight bars, they were including palm oil instead of cocoa butter - a cheap alternative with disastrous effects on our environment and on the habitat of some of the most endangered animals in the world.

Glenn Hurowitz, LA Times, writes:

"Whether it's used as an additive in soap, cosmetics or food, or processed into a biofuel, palm oil is one of the worst culprits in the climate crisis.

Most of it comes from the disappearing, ultra-carbon-rich rain forests of Indonesia and Malaysia, of which a whopping 25,000 square miles have been cleared and burned to make way for palm oil plantations.

That burning releases enough carbon dioxide into the air to rank Indonesia as the No. 3 such polluter in the world. It also destroys the last remaining habitat for orangutans, Sumatran rhinos, tigers and other endangered wildlife."

[Source (now archived)]

Once these tropical rainforests are gone, replaced by crops of palm oil (the demand increasing thanks to companies like Cadbury), animals, most specifically the orang-utan and the Sumatran tiger and rhinoceros which are already critically endangered, will face almost immediate extinction in the wild.

An orangutan is seen with an tranquilizer dart in his side - to make him sleep before rangers relocate him to another place on Borneo island, away from this palm oil plantation.
(Click for larger) [Source]

So what can we do about it? Well, be picky about our brands, for a start.

Auckland Zoo have taken all Cadbury products off the shelves of their shops and restaurants as a demonstration of their commitment, as well as removing palm oil products from animal feed. Wellington Zoo says it "supports" this stance, but is not partaking of the boycott, despite the vision statement on their website saying that the Zoo has "a belief in the need for a sustainable co-existence between wildlife and people".

Whittaker's have a chance to romp home here, as not only is their chocolate made from 100% cocoa butter (no palm oil), a block of Whittaker's milk chocolate is 33% cocoa butter, as opposed to Cadbury's 21%. (According to the Sunday Star Times, who I'm sure had a blast doing that research.)

Check food labels, that's really important. If you're a veggo or have had someone in your family or flat with allergies, you'll already be in the habit. And personally, I think it's a good one to be in. Sometimes simply the sheer number of long, scientific-sounding, non-food-sounding ingredients can be enough to make you put something back on the shelf.

This is a great opportunity for consumers to lead the change. There is no need for us to be complicit in the further degradation of our planet just because we want some chocky.

Essential reading:

  • Auckland Zoo has some great background info on palm oil and its effects on endangered animals.

  • Go there also for the "Orang utan Friendly Shopping List" for which they are updating based on on-going suggestions.

  • Here is Wellington Zoo's contact page. Email them and ask them what they doing regarding this matter! I have! They didn't reply!

  • Taking a step further, here's an Australian website called Palm Oil Action. It has flames on it and uses the word 'deadly' in quite large letters. Awesome.
    But it has a useful section under "Action" of "Sample Letters", which we can copy and paste to help spread the word and let decision makers know that there is public concern on this issue.

4 thoughts on “Eat Cadbury and kill an orang-utan.”

  1. It's particularly annoying that they just list it as vegetable fat on labels. Selfishly - it is quite handy as self control for my own sake doesn't seem to work - but I should be able to restrain myself for orangutans!

  2. Hi Helen - thanks for the link! :)

    And I know, Meg... so annoying!
    I guess one thing to do, if it's a product you're rather fond of and buying regularly, is flick the company an email and ask them to specify.
    And if it IS palm oil then tell them they're evil and to stop.

  3. Hi there,

    my friend did get a response from Wellington Zoo which is fairly heartening.

    Here it is....

    thanks for your thoughts here, rainforest preservation is something that Wellington Zoo supports unequivocally.

    Below, I've sketched out a few points of information further to the Sunday Star-Times article, that, as I'm sure you will have guessed, does not by any means give a full picture of our conservation measures at Wgtn Zoo.

    When the time comes to renew our contracts with our café caterers we will be in a much better position to negotiate ethical purchasing. Auckland Zoo is currently negotiating its catering contracts and hence has this excellent opportunity.
    Our caterers have agreed only to use rice bran oil in the deep fryers, and are currently looking to replace all Cadbury products with another chocolate producer.
    We successfully negotiated with our caterers to supply only free-range eggs and chicken products. As well as a solid list of Fair Trade stock.
    Of huge significance to rainforests, we use only FSC certified timber for construction in the Zoo:
    We communicate the use of FSC timber, as opposed to rainforest-sourced and other non-sustainably sourced timber to all Zoo visitors and thousands of stakeholders, as one of three conservation messages. So we include information and passionate encouragement in all talks, talks and lessons with school groups, planning sessions with school teachers, a lot of documents, and in talks that staff give to the public off-site.
    If you are interested in the Zoo's Conservation Strategy, in our conservation fund and the many projects we host, initiate and support, please have a read at: