Palm Kernel Meal: Slipping Under the Sustainable Radar

As consumer and environmental groups continue to increase awareness about the controversies involved with the production of unsustainable palm oil, some industries remain unaffected by shifts in awareness. Yesterday’s Guardian article “UK animal feed helping to destroy rainforest, study shows” points to a DEFRA study that focuses on often overlooked uses of palm oil. Of particular interest is the use of palm kernel meal for livestock feed. Producers claim that palm kernel meal is a byproduct of palm oil production and thereby not subject to RSPO scrutiny. However the study shows that 23% of palm oil imported to the UK is used in animal feed with about 80% of the oil coming from Indonesia. This issue raises the question. How can advocates for sustainable palm oil production have an impact on industries that do not come in direct contact with the consumer? The DEFRA study focuses on uses of palm oil that we may not typically think of and brings to light potential issues that we will need to face in the future as responsible consumers.