Pressure on bakers to use sustainable palm oil is set to mount after New Britain Oils announced plans to open a UK processing facility producing bakery fats made with fully segregated, certified palm oil.
Around £9m is being invested at the firm’s Liverpool refinery, enabling it to supply margarines and bakery fats for use in pastries, cakes, puff and shortcrust pastry, shortenings and bread fats from the second quarter of 2012.
The facility is the first of its kind in the UK and will have a capacity of 75,000 tonnes, processing sustainable palm oil from fully traceable sources in Papua New Guinea and The Solomon Islands.
Bako will be among the companies distributing the ingredients, with products expected to cost the same as those made with non-sustainable palm oil.
To date, many bakeries have bought GreenPalm certificates to offset the environmental impact of palm oil. And in 2009, conser-vation body WWF ’named and shamed’ manufacturers who were not doing enough to use sustainable palm oil. A WWF spokesman urged bakers to switch to the new fully traceable palm oil products, but said: "There will still be a place for GreenPalm certificates in complicated supply chains."
Under the GreenPalm scheme, run by fats supplier AAK, companies buy a certificate for every tonne of palm oil they use. A premium is then paid to farmers producing an equivalent amount of sustainable palm oil, although the final ingredient used by the company is unlikely to be from 100% sustainable sources. GreenPalm general manager Bob Norman said the new facility would not hit its business too greatly. "It will just give manufacturers another option."
Alan Chaytor, executive director of parent company New Britain Palm Oil, said: "The bakery fats category represents around 40% of the palm and palm oil derivatives demand in the UK. Many firms in this sector have claimed for years that it is just too difficult to buy sustainable products, so they either do nothing or end up buying offset certificates."