Cadbury Pulls Palm Oil from Formula for Dairy Milk Bars

Cadbury Pulls Palm Oil from Formula for Dairy Milk Bars

In response to pressure from the Auckland Zoo in New Zealand, the confectioner Cadbury has agreed to remove palm oil from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars, due to concerns about deforestation and habitat loss, according to the New Zealand Herald.

In June, the zoo removed Cadbury’s products from its shelves in gift shops, because large-scale palm oil plantations destroy habitats for orangutans, the zoo’s website said. Cadbury added palm oil, sometimes used in chocolate as a filler for cocoa mass, to reduce the weight and cost of the product.

While the company was not immediately available for comment, it released a statement on its website: “Cadbury is a responsible business and we purchase certified sustainable palm oil -- one of the few companies in New Zealand to do so. But Kiwi consumers have told us they don’t want palm oil in their Cadbury Dairy Milk, so it’s going.” said Matthew Oldham, managing director for Cadbury New Zealand.

In addition, it recently made commitments to source cocoa mass from Fair Trade certified plantations for its flagship brand Dairy Milk bars sold in the United Kingdom. A plantation that grows a single crop, whether cocoa, coffee or palm oil, often is linked with destroying biodiversity and habitats for species that are endangered or threatened.

Palm oil is often called an “invisible” ingredient by industry experts, because it is used in many food and cosmetic products, but few shoppers are aware of its presence, or the environmental impacts on places such as Indonesia and Malaysia, where many plantations are located. Cadbury plc is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a nonprofit industry organization that promotes standards for developing a more environmentally and socially responsible supply chain.

Cadbury isn’t the only company committed to sourcing sustainably-harvested ingredients.

LUSH Cosmetics has committed to removing all palm oil from its soap and beauty products; it started doing so in the U.K. last year and widened the program to North America this year. LUSH recently launched a letter-writing campaign to 300 companies including Procter and Gamble, Unilever and Nestle, urging them to phase out the widely used ingredient. As a bonus, the LUSH is even offering a year’s supply of palm oil-free soap base.

The campaign began after LUSH sent representatives to Indonesia to see palm oil farms. The cosmetics company acknowledged the effort by agronomists and environmentalists to establish sustainable farming practices, but decided that there was no way to sustainably harvest the crop, said Brandi Halls, LUSH's communications manager. “The deforestation problem in Indonesia won’t go away until demand goes away,” she said in a telephone interview.


LUSH has partnered with activist organizations such as Rainforest Action Network and the World Society for Protection of Animals to promote awareness.

LUSH characterizes itself as an “direct action” company, said Halls, and strives to educate its staff, shoppers and other businesses about the environmental impacts of ingredients used in cosmetics.

“We understand it wont be an easy thing to remove palm oil,” said Halls, but noted LUSH is offering to share its own reformulated soap base to help other companies begin the process. “We are a global company too. If we can do it so can you.”

Palm oil plantation image courtesy of
LUSH campaign image courtesy of