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Palm Oil Action Australia | January 19, 2022

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For Students

About POAG & What You Can Find Here

Palm Oil Action Australia was established in 2001 as an information and action organisation in response to the growing concern about unsustainable palm oil use in food and biofuels. By ‘unsustainable’, we mean palm oil that is grown and harvested in such a way as to cause major habitat loss and the threat of extinction or near-extinction for many species who depend upon the rainforests that are cut down to make way for palm oil.

Whilst there are a number of websites dedicated to orangutan conservation as a direct result of the palm oil issue – and we encourage you to seek these out for other important information and for their views – we are geared more for the Australian consumer and for students who want to know general information about palm oil, and who want to know what we can do to change things. We also act as a news curator, sourcing the latest news from around the world regarding industry happenings and conservation issues.

Using Our News Collection For Your Assignment:

Our collated monthly news articles are a great resource for students looking for more detailed information about palm oil. We have curated news over many months into one place, which will make your research easier.

By looking at a few news articles picked out from over a few months, you can get a progressive timeline of what is happening in the industry as the happenings unfold. You can also find out who are the main players (RSPO and IOIO etc); the countries affected (S.E. Asia and increasingly, Africa), and even read about some of the drama, such as palm oil suppliers who have been banned from the RSPO (and why!); and the issue of hazardous fires burning in Malaysia as a direct result of palm oil, and what should be done about it. All of these stories are available on our news area, you just need to set aside a little time to browse headlines and then scan some articles for their relevancy.

There are also stories and opinions from some of the major conservation groups such WWF and Greenpeace. Another important topic to look out for is stories that report about the big producers and retailers such as Nestle, Heinz, Pepsico and Ferrero: where they stand on the issue, as well as what, if anything, they’ve been doing to change their practices.

Browse through a few months worth of stories and pick out headlines that grab you or that look like they relate to your assignment topic or questions. The headlines of the stories will guide students to what they want to know.
If the original link is dead – news is often removed shortly after it is published and we are not responsible for the content of other sites-  where possible we created an archived, text-only version so that at least the main story is still available, even if the images are not.

Using the Website:

Apart from the news collection, our website and various links  also contain a wealth of information, and we encourage students to spend time and look around the site.



It’s worth talking about copyright since almost all assignments will require you to cite and reference your sources. Here’s  what you can do here: you are free to quote, reference or re-write in your own words any text content on our website-proper without asking permission. We ask however that you cite the reference as The news section, however, is different. Depending on how much of an article that you want to use you will probably need to ask permission from the site that the article is linked to.  We can only give you permission to use material from our site; not any sites that we happen to be linked to.


Most of the images on our site come from public domain or creative commons licence sources. We like to source images from these ‘free to use’ sources. However some images do not have a public licence and have been used with the kind permission of the photographer. These are always credited; their photos are contributing to our work – the least we can do is help them gain attention and a wider audience. We make every effort to credit the photographer, whether it be an image we have been granted permission to use, or whether it be one we sourced via creative commons. We believe that all work should be given appropriate credit, even when it is ‘free’ to use. We suggest you do the same, as it not only makes you look like you have done your research and paid attention to detail, but also – and mainly – because giving credit where credit is due is just the right and polite thing to do.

If you would like to use an image found on our site, please do not download directly from our site – most of them will have links back to their source. If that source is creative commons, and the site or image licence from where it came from will make it clear if it is – then you can download from the original source and give the credit. If it is a picture that has come from a non-open licence that we have contacted directly, then you will need to contact the photographer through the links provided on their image,  and ask if you can use the image (You can tell them that you found it on our site, this might help to establish goodwill). If it does happen that an image on our site does not have a link back or a cited source, please contact

What is your Strategy?

Our Strategy is Four-Fold:

Education, Campaiging & Policy Change, Labelling and Consumer Action

Education :

The website, news articles and downloadable resources inform people about what palm oil is, where it comes from and why it is a problem.

Campaigning and Policy change :

We want manufacturers and supermarkets such as Coles, Aldi and Woolworths to take a stand and stock only products that use segregated sustainable palm oil. We do this by encouraging consumers to write to the supermarkets or manufacturers and ask them to commit to using sustainable palm oil in products they stock, and to incorporate this into policy. We also pester them ourselves.


We are also requesting that labelling laws in Australia to change so that palm oil can be clearly identified as an ingredient in food and other products. Currently, Australian labelling laws only require that any oil in a food be labelled as ‘vegetable oil’, the type of oil is not required to be named. This makes it easy for food manufacturers to hide the use of palm oil in their foods – and indeed palm oil is far more common than most people think. We believe that consumers have the right to know what they are buying and eating, and only by clear labelling laws that identify what type of vegetable oil (eg corn, soya, canola, rapeseed, coconut or palm) is clearly labelled.

Consumer Action:

We encourage people to write or call food producers and retailers to ask them what oil they are using in a product, and, request them to change. Explain why.
Tell your friends and family about palm oil, its impact, and how they can make better food and product choices.
Download our shopping guide(s) and use them when shopping.
Check out also Palm Oil Investigations

Check labels of foods and other products and try and buy either palm-oil free or labelled with “segregated sustainable palm oil.”

Please Advise if your Strategy is Working

We have seen a huge rise in awareness of palm oil since we started. Most major makers and retailers have developed a palm oil policy as a result of our campaigns. Our Facebook page continues to gain traction as more and more people become aware of the palm oil issue and they wish to be kept informed.

What can I do to help?

If you have a favourite food and it is labelled ‘vegetable oil’ in the ingredients, write or call food producers to ask them what oil they are using in the product, and, request them to change.

Tell them about palm oil, orangutans, tigers and rhinos in S.E. Asia, and the threat of extinction to these species – within a few years for some of them – if rain forest destruction continues.
Request that they produce palm oil-free products; palm oil is used because it is cheap, not necessarily because it is the best oil – or products that contain segregated sustainable palm oil, and that this be clearly labelled.
Given that this issue is gaining increasing world-wide consumer attention and momentum, it is in any company’s best interests to get on board with an environmentally friendly course of action.

It is our belief that the issue and tragedy of palm oil will become as abhorrent and unacceptable to consumers as battery cage hens has become, and that any company not promoting their ‘palm oil innocence’ (our term, not a technical word!), will lose out in favour of products that do have clear labelling; and a clear conscience.

This approach works. When called and asked about the oil in their products, we hear of producers (mostly smaller companies) who simply do not know about the issue, or if they do know, they are unaware of the palm oil connection to the food stabilisers and preservatives that are made from palm derivatives that they use in their products. This is because these derivatives do not usually contain any reference to palm oil at all, but have other chemical-sounding names. This almost always surprises them, and it gives you, the caller, a way of inviting them to get onboard the ‘sustainable only’ boat that we want to encourage.

Tell your friends and family

Download our shopping guide(s) and use them when shopping. Currently these are on two pages:
Check labels of foods and other products and try and buy either palm-oil free or labelled with ‘segregated sustainable palm oil”
Join our Facebook Group
We post regular news updates, videos, have discussions, and also sometimes introduce products that fit the palm oil free criteria as a help to consumers

Donate to any of the “save the orangutan funds”. Orangutan numbers are dropping fast, and money is needed to help fund rescue sanctuaries for orphaned and injured orangutans.

What are your biggest challenges?

The campaign for the correct labelling of palm oil is ongoing. We are trying to change the behaviour of large food companies, many of whom are prepared to use whatever means they can to avoid change.

The food companies are well-funded and use their dollars to avoid responsible action or clear disclosure.

Some labelling looks friendly enough, but the labels are in fact meaningless, which further frustrates our efforts to lobby for transparency.

They use false arguments such as ‘there is no space on labels’ or that…it’s not technically possible’ (to make their product without palm oil or with a subsitute).

We are also facing  government ( Australian, both major parties) that does not believe in our right to know what is in our foodstuffs.

This issue is as complex as it is frustrating: like a detective novel, palm oil has so many false identities and companies operate by such stealth, that it’s almost impossible to trace the clues back to the real origin of any palm oil in a product. Has it come from sustainable oil, or that from illegal or questionable farming practices. Is it as is so often the case, a mixture? What is really being used? This is one of the major challenges for us and for an industry that is under increasing pressure to become accountable.

It is going to take a nation of people demanding the truth in labeling from the government and food and products manufacturers before we can really start to see change.

Overseas governments also need to change their approach. We read of allegations made about corruption and that authorities turn a blind eye to the slashing and burning of proteced rainforests.

This is of course for the countries themselves to sort out, but we in the West, as consumers of palm oil, wittingly or not – mostly unwittingly –   can effect market forces through consumer choices.

Another challenge is that palm oil is well-hidden under vague labelling and pseudonyms (that is, ingredients that read like a chemical name, but are in fact derived from palm oil). This occurs more often in non-food stuffs such as shampoos, cosmetics, cleaners and detergents, and the list is enormous. These disguises should be brought to public attention, so that they can make better choices, knowing that their choices matter greatly.

Who else is involved in this campaign?

We are part of an organisation called Responsible Palm Oil Network that exists to be a group voice for Palm oil awareness and reform. Its members include most Australian zoos as well as many animal and habitat protection organisations.

Who Are You?

We are a group of volunteers: consumers and citizens just like you – with day-jobs, cats and dogs (and rats and birds, in one case) and families and chocolate addictions who believe that palm oil is  a major threat to so many species and habitats and that so few people know enough about it- but would like to – that we started this site. Is a bottle of shampoo worth the life of an orangutan? We believe that when you put it like this,  most people would answer a firm “no.”  And that they would make better shopping choices if given the knowledge and ease of purchase to do so. So that’s why we do what we do.