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Two years ago, the heir to the throne set up the Prince's Rainforest Project with the backing of 18 corporations including Goldman Sachs and McDonald's to campaign against deforestation. Environmental groups including the World Wide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, along with the United Nations, have expressed concern at the clearing of jungles in Sumatra and Borneo to make way for palm oil plantations.
But, the world's cheapest cooking oil is also grown in Papua New Guinea and Colombia. Now, according to a report in The Independent, palm oil is present in five of products in Prince Charles' Duchy Originals range of organic groceries sold in British shops. The Independent disclosed the confirmed or suspected presence of palm oil in 43 leading brands, including Hovis bread, KitKats and Mars Bars.
Duchy Originals manufacturers pour palm oil into its toffee biscuits, beetroot soup, spinach and nutmeg soup, fresh chicken gravy and steak and ale pie.
But, according to a spokesman for the company, "Currently less than five of our products in a range of over 200 - contain palm oil. Duchy Originals only uses palm oil in recipes where there is no alternative, and then only in minimal quantities."
"We have worked hard over the past year to eliminate palm oil from a number of our products and have asked our producers to look at replacing it wherever possible," he added.
Only two per cent of global palm oil is currently certified sustainable by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
The rest - including supplies from newly-razed forests - is mixed together in refineries.
At one stage, Duchy Originals' PR company stated it only required suppliers to be RSPO members, but Duchy Originals later clarified that supplies had to be RSPO-certified.
There is no proof, whatsoever, who buys these sustainable supplies because contracts are between manufacturers and suppliers. However, the first certified supplies only became available in November 2008, meaning that Duchy Originals palm oil would not have had the international guarantee of sustainability before then.