UPDATED 1/28/2015: Trader Joe’s STILL Apparently Gets (Much of) Its Palm Oil From South America

An example of a Trader Joe's storefront.

An example of a Trader Joe’s storefront. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Below is the long gestating relationship with Trader Joe’s.  Read it if you want to kill some time.]

Here’s TJ’s palm oil response, hot off the press!

Thank you so much for contacting us, and thank you for your feedback on this important issue. We do want to let you know that much of the palm oil used in our Trader Joe’s products comes from small scale family farms in South America. These farmers are certified by ProForest, which ensures that they meet strict social, environmental and technical criteria.

With regard to environmental criteria, the assessments are carried out at the landscape and operational level at both the farms and processing facilities. These assessments cover environmental impact on the soil, water, air, biodiversity and local communities. The lands the farmers use are not lands that were deforested. The lands used to grow the palm fruit are lands previously used for agricultural purposes (cattle, rice, bananas, etc).

Still, though, while much of the palm oil our vendors source is as described above, it is impossible for us at this time to ensure that all of our palm oil is sourced this way, and some of it is definitely sourced as a commodity. We appreciate your input, though, and we hope this information helps inform your shopping choices.

Sincerely,

Hazel
Trader Joe’s
Customer Relations

LOOKS THE SAME TO ME.  (SEE BELOW.)

DECEMBER 2012

(I’m going to repost this update from December 2012 again now. It’s important and I’m not sure if it’s just been buried amid posts from nearly a year ago.) I have a little history with “Nikki,” the very nice person at Trader Joe’s who fields those website “Contact Us” inquiries for the company. See below link. Back in March 2012, when the Tripa peat forests were ablaze in a palm oil conflagration, I wrote to Trader Joe’s to find out where they get their palm oil. This Nikki person responded with very questionable info. An orangutan conservation charitable organization weighed-in on their response, calling it somewhat erroneous. I pressed over the next six months for a real answer, and partially boycotted the company (sorry, I like their recycled paper products). I like the TJ’s ethos — but am not sure they live up to their perceived green cred. Well I had one last tete-a-tete with “Nikki” yesterday. I accused her and the company of stonewalling. Here’s what she wrote:

I am so sorry you feel that way. I do not have an official policy to share with you. We are always looking to do things better….where there is additional movement in this area I will be sure to keep you posted.

So feeling as if I was being led-on, I was curious what the TJ’s corporate response would be NOW to a palm oil inquiry, six months after that orangutan conservation charity called “bullshit” (my words) on their previous response. Here’s what a friend received today from her inquiry (it was me masquerading as her, btw).

Thank you so much for contacting us, and thank you for your feedback on this important issue. We do want to let you know that much of the palm oil used in our Trader Joe’s products comes from small scale family farms in South America. These farmers are certified by ProForest, which ensures that they meet strict social, environmental and technical criteria. With regard to environmental criteria, the assessments are carried out at the landscape and operational level at both the farms and processing facilities. These assessments cover environmental impact on the soil, water, air, biodiversity and local communities. The lands the farmers use are not lands that were deforested. The lands used to grow the palm fruit are lands previously used for agricultural purposes (cattle, rice, bananas, etc). Still, though, while much of the palm oil our vendors source is as described above, it is impossible for us at this time to ensure that all of our palm oil is sourced this way, and some of it is definitely sourced as a commodity. We definitely appreciate your input, though, and we hope this information helps inform your shopping choices.

WTF!? This is ALL I wanted to know! They get most of their palm oil from South America.  While perhaps still questionable on a certain level,  I was happily shocked that it’s not predominantly from the palm oil plantations of Indonesia and Malaysia that I’ve been writing about for about a year now.  Holy Shit, why couldn’t she have just told me? Very odd. However, a few comments have pointed out that it’s still pretty sad that a company can’t vouch for all its palm oil sourcing.  Even if most comes from South America, it’s possible that some might still come from the orangutan killing fields of Indonesia.  I’m going to play it safe.  I just avoid purchasing anything that contains palm oil if I can help it. If interested, here’s a running summary of my attempt to pull teeth on this palm oil issue with TJ’s: https://gettingonmysoapbox.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/trader-joes-responds/

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18 Responses to UPDATED 1/28/2015: Trader Joe’s STILL Apparently Gets (Much of) Its Palm Oil From South America

  1. ProForest is very reputable, so this is good news.

  2. Robert Hii says:

    There is a thing called segregated traceable sustainable palm oil and yes, it can come from Agropalma in Brazil.This is the good stuff where all the question marks are removed and the source traced back to where the palm fruits were plucked off.

    TJ’s reply to you smacks of the same ” lets twist and turn language to confuse them” public relationspeak.

    Companies that use certified sustainable palm oil have nothing to hide,its those that use bits and pieces there that will always put up smokescreens

  3. Pingback: 12/2012 Updated: Trader Joe’s Responds – What the Hell’s a “Palm Forest”? | gettingonmysoapbox

  4. Pingback: Minding Nutella | local food systems

  5. jbdean says:

    Sorry, but this reply is still bogus. “Still, though, while much of the palm oil our vendors source is as described above, it is impossible for us at this time to ensure that all of our palm oil is sourced this way, and some of it is definitely sourced as a commodity.” How can a reputable company NOT know where every item they purchase comes from? What? Are these South American farmers buying from Indonesia and reselling to Trader Joe’s masked as their own product? Absurd, to say the least. I loved Trader Joe’s until I found they sell their own products with Palm Oil. Bottom Line: There is no need for Palm Oil. It’s only a cheap way to stretch ingredients like butter or other oils. I’m still boycotting them until they stop using it completely.

    • Jerry Howe says:

      Go ahead and boycott it. It is CERTAINLY better for you than butter.

      • You miss the point — which is not what product is healthier. Rather, it’s that the demand for palm oil is causing:
        1. The deforestation of the last remaining rainforests of Southeast Asia (and now central Africa and South America);
        2. The death of critically endangered species that inhabit it, like the orangutan, Sumatran tiger and Sumatran rhino;
        3. The displacement of the indigenous peoples;
        4. The enslavement of the poor in atrocious plantation working conditions;
        5. The exacerbation of global warming.

  6. clark.co.Il says:

    Hi there to every single one, it’s genuinely a fastidious for me to visit this web page, it includes useful Information.

  7. just the facts says:

    I wrote TJ’s last month about palm oil, and got the same response from Nicki as the letter above. I wrote back today, asking for a guide to TJ’s products that use ProForest-certified palm oil. That way we’d at least know what we’re buying, and could avoid “commodity-sourced” palm oil.

  8. Pingback: The Power (To Stop Palm Oil and Save Orangutans) is In Your Palm | gettingonmysoapbox

  9. Thanks for posting this, I was just wondering as I’ve been watching “Years of Living Dangerously” with tears in my eyes. Do you know where they get their Palm Sugar? It says “Organic” and it’s from Indonesia so that makes me nervous. I can contact them (I have before in regards to their “non GMO promise”), just wondering if you already have. Thanks!

  10. Claudia Ch says:

    For instance Dr brothers soaps state on the labels that they are traceable. Why traders Joe doesn’t label it? Maybe because nicki is not telling the truth?

  11. Pingback: Update: 6/11/2015: ALDI Food Markets Moving Into Southern California — And They Use Palm Oil | gettingonmysoapbox

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