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Migros goes “green” over palm oil

Migros has set new environmental and social standards for palm oil products Keystone

Switzerland's largest retailer, Migros, is to buy its palm oil exclusively from producers who respect the environment in an effort save tropical forests.

Migros has teamed up with the Swiss section of the World Wide Fund for Nature in drawing up a set of minimum environmental and social standards for its palm oil products.

According to the company, tropical forests are being decimated by the rapid growth in demand for palm oil, which is used in the production of margarine, a number of bakery products, soups and sauces.

Dramatic destruction

Migros said in a statement that the destruction of tropical forests had become “dramatic”, and it was therefore aiming to introduce production conditions that posed no threat to the forests.

The new standards stipulate that steps should be taken to preserve animal and plant life in forest areas. They also include the adoption of ecological cultivation techniques in the plantations, the conservation of resources and decent working conditions.

Migros said it had already found one producer that satisfied the new requirements: the Ghana Oil Palm Development Company in West Africa. Other potential producers are currently being studied, the company added.

Label informs the customers

The first batch of products meeting the new requirements is already on supermarket shelves. To inform customers about the campaign, they carry a label that reads: “Migros protects the tropical forest”.

Over the past 10 years, production of palm oil has doubled to 23 million tons, with the bulk coming from Indonesia and Malaysia. There are about 10 million hectares of palm oil plantations, and the WWF estimates that over the next 25 years a further 250 to 300 million hectares of tropical forest will be converted into agricultural land.

“The WWF hopes that the example of Migros will set a trend and that it goes outside Switzerland’s borders,” said Andrea Reis, head of the WWF’s forestry division.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR