Despite the superior productivity, utility and economic benefits of palm oil compared with other oil crops, the palm oil industry often receives negative publicity for its environmental impact and there is widespread confusion over the perception of palm oil. The fact is that it is difficult to avoid palm oil consumption, and consumer boycotts will do little to resolve the social and environmental issues associated with oil palm agriculture. Instead, greater awareness of the importance of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) is needed. We used a mixed-methods survey to explore public awareness of palm oil, and understand the factors influencing sustainable consumer choice. Our survey, conducted in the Rainforest Biome of the world-renowned Eden Project in the United Kingdom, a nation with relatively high environmental awareness, revealed that public awareness of palm oil was generally low and that consumers had poor knowledge of CSPO. We identified that the most significant barriers preventing consumer choice for CSPO products were unclear labelling, product availability and cost. We recommend that the palm oil industry focus on enhancing sustainability, promoting the benefits and increasing the visibility of CSPO in supply chains and final products, rather than waiting for consumer choice alone to drive change.
Hobbs, L., Phillips, J., Staff, A., Goss, A., Fogg-Rogers, L., & Ellwood, F. (2022). Public engagement promotes consumer choice in favour of sustainable palm oil. Journal of Oil Palm Research, 34(2), 248-260. https://doi.org/10.21894/jopr.2021.0033