Protesters take on Aldi

SIGNING UP: Esther Grogg and Pam Tucker (front) and behind them, from left, Christine Hahn, Liora Claff and Anasuya Claff at Aldi supermarket in Lismore.
SIGNING UP: Esther Grogg and Pam Tucker (front) and behind them, from left, Christine Hahn, Liora Claff and Anasuya Claff at Aldi supermarket in Lismore. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

PALM oil plantations are the leading cause of rainforest destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia, wiping out the equivalent of 300 soccer fields every hour.

The loss of rainforest habitat is causing a massive decline in the population of orangutans, which could be wiped out in the wild by 2020. It also threatens endangered species such as Sumatran tigers and Bornean rhinos and represents a huge loss of biodiversity.

Palm oil is in everything from food products to cosmetics and detergents, but often it is labelled as "vegetable oil" which doesn't allow consumers to identify and then boycott it. There has been a worldwide campaign to have palm oil products clearly labelled and a small group took to the streets outside the Aldi supermarket in Lismore to raise the issue with shoppers on Saturday morning.

Organiser Anasuya Claff said they were targeting Aldi because Aldi didn't have a published policy about palm oil, whereas Coles and Woolworths did.

Ms Claff said there was a commitment from Woolworths to have palm oil labelled on all of their own products.

She said when she raised the palm oil issue with Aldi management on the phone, they said it was up to their suppliers.

"This is not good enough... Aldi has good sustainable fish and human rights policies and they are gaining market share against Coles and Woolies. We want Aldi to know that people care about palm oil."

About 100 shoppers stopped to sign postcards.

Ms Claff said a 2011 Food Labelling and Law policy review recommended Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) undertake "a technical evaluation" of whether more detail could be included on labels for foods that currently had generic information such as "added vegetable oils". FSANZ estimates they will report back in 2015.

She also said clear labelling for palm oil sourced from sustainable plantations was also important.

"We want to push companies to transform to sustainability, and that means raising awareness and having their customers ask them to use segregated certified sustainable palm oil. If Aldi hears that their customers want action, they will take action."

Topics:  aldi palm oil

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