Once a year the Dr. Bronners team come over to the UK to attend the Natural & Organic Products Europe Show, meet with UK retailers and attend press interviews.
This year we were delighted to welcome both Mike and Lisa Bronner. This was Lisa’s first visit so we lined up a full day of one-to-one press and blogger interviews including Veggie magazine, Cosmetics Business News, The Mail on Sunday YOU magazine, Healthy and Heathista, moving between two of London’s fantastic vegetarian restaurants: Ethos and Tibits.
We were also pleased to arrange for Dr. Bronner’s President Mike Bronner and Director of Special Operations, Gero Leson to meet with The Guardian’s deputy editor of Sustainable Business, Tess Riley who heads up their Palm Oil debate. This was followed by the guys joining in with an hour’s Live online chat on the subject the following day. On the Live chat we were joined by Ignacio Gavilan, environmental sustainability director of the Consumer Goods Forum, Emma Keller, agricultural commodities manager, WWF-UK, Leonie Lawrence, global palm oil project manager, ZSL’s SPOTT team, Anita Neville, vice president corporate communications and sustainability relations, Golden Agri-Resources, Marion Pellegrin, head of sustainability, Olympic and Bastien Sachet, chief executive, The Forest Trust
The subject of palm oil is a highly emotive subject but it’s not palm oil itself which is the problem. Palm oil is a very versatile oil and it’s difficult to find a good replacement. As Mike Bronner said during the Live Chat “I think people boycott palm oil because they want to find a direct way to enact real change with their buying decisions. This is admirable and effective. Much palm oil indeed is grown on monocultures on huge plantations where rainforest is destroyed to make room for more arable land. Unfortunately, people often “throw out the baby with the bathwater” and end up boycotting all palm oil, even that which is grown sustainably on small plots of land by family farmers.”
This brings us to the important issue of ‘Fair Trade’. Dr. Bronner’s goes to great lengths to operate a fair trade supply chain, investing heavily in its palm oil and coconut oil plantations in Africa and Asia. As Mike goes onto say “It is not palm itself that is evil, but rather the processes used by large growers at the expense of the environment. We must go after the policies that allow massive deforestation to happen. Simply boycotting conflict palm oil alone won’t solve the problem, since landowners are more than happy to clear cut rainforests to turn other profits on soybeans or meat production. We have to create ethical and sustainable sources of all crops.”
Visit the Guardian to read the full debate.