Dudley Zoo & Castle is home to a group of charismatic Bornean Orangutans. One of the biggest threats to the orangutan in the wild is the destruction of the Rainforest to make room for palm oil plantations.

Palm oil is a form of vegetable oil that is used in most everyday items. It is currently the most mass produced vegetable oil on the planet, with over 77 million tons produced each year.

It is used in half of our supermarket products; especially processed foods, cosmetics and cleaning products. It is also in our fuel.

Did you know?

Since 2009- which saw the introduction of mandatory mixing of biofuels in European car fuel, over half the imported palm oil has been used in fuel. This has led to huge amounts of deforestation and the release of massive amounts of greenhouse gases, more so than in traditional fossil fuels.

The destruction of the forest, often through burning, has pushed endangered species such as the orangutan to the brink of extinction.

The Bornean orangutan has moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered on the IUCN red list. Orangutans are either killed through forest fires or starved to death as they are forced to live on the ground amongst palm oil plants that offer no food.

But as consumers how can we help?

Since 2014 regulations were put into place so that all food products have to clearly state if they contain palm oil or not. There are also many helpful websites that can help tell you which products are palm oil free or made from sustainable palm oil-which has no adverse effects on the natural world. Another alternative is to cook foods using natural ingredients rather than processed foods. Not only does this provide a healthier lifestyle but also protects some of the most endangered species in the world.

With many of our favourite tasty treats, such as cakes, biscuits and crisps containing palm oil, why not download a new mobile phone app and check if the things in your shopping basket are as fair as possible! 

Developed by Chester Zoo in collaboration with the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and palm oil experts from Auckland Zoo and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the PalmOil Scan app allows shoppers to scan product barcodes and see how major manufacturers are sourcing their ingredients.  Download it now from your app store and give it a go!

Alternatively, ensure your weekly shop includes sustainably sourced palm oil, by looking out for the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) Trademark or Rainforest Alliance logos on packaging, which mean the product’s ingredients will have been responsibly sourced and therefore not only benefits the environment but also local communities and farmers. 

If we can all make one change, we can make a difference together!

Some of the everyday products that use palm oil:






Instant Noodles



Ice Cream

Pre Packaged Bread

Is palm oil always a bad thing?

When grown sustainably by responsible farmers, palm oil can be a force for good. It can help protect the environment, communities, employees and wildlife.

Palm trees are better at producing oil than many of the other alternatives including sunflower oil. This is because more palm oil can be produced using a smaller land area than when planting other oil producing crops.

Find out more about how the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) are enabling the positive impact of sustainable palm oil?