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Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing Presents Challenges

More and more major companies are turning away from palm oil as a bid to attract consumers concerned about environmental damage. McDonald’s made the announcement in April, joining Dunkin’ Brands and Yum! Brands Inc. in their pledges to source only sustainably produced palm oil. As the supply chain becomes more transparent, socially-conscious consumers are demanding different practices from food companies.

While a variety of companies are turning away from certain foods, from GMOs to meat raised with antibiotics, finding sustainable palm oil will present its own difficulties, reported The Wall Street Journal. One of the most basic difficulties is how convoluted the supply chain is before it reaches a supplier. Even if a company sources from a single palm oil producer, that producer may in turn receive oil from a number of traders, who themselves may use smaller independent farmers. As a result, it becomes difficult to ensure all the oil came from sustainable sources.

While the move has seen support, some experts believe trying to trace palm oil’s supply chain may be unfeasible. However, others see it as the first step in companies addressing larger environmental concerns.