Trader Joe’s – Can’t (Won’t) Guarantee that All the Palm Oil It Uses is Deforestation-Free

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I have a pretty long history of hassling Trader Joe’s for their palm oil policy. It hasn’t always been pretty. But in 2015, they promised their palm oil was from South America, which, while still suspicious if deforesting, say, the Amazon, at least meant the deforestation ground zero of Indonesia and Malaysia was not implicated this time.

Here’s the link to that past history:

So I went into a TJ’s recently and saw palm oil in a chocolate bar. So I wrote them, hoping the palm oil policy had been at least the same — or even more promising for the environment. Here’s their answer:

Thanks for writing to express your concerns over the use of Palm Oil in our products. We will forwarded your comments to the appropriate buyers and our Product Steering Committee for review. At Trader Joe’s we are always striving to improve and your feedback allows us to do so.

Much of the palm oil used in our Trader Joe’s products comes from smaller-scale family farms. These farmers are sometimes certified by ProForest and/or are members of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), which ensures that they meet strict social, environmental and technical criteria. For an example, one of our suppliers who utilized Palm Oil in our products, has kept to their pledge to source 100% RSPO sustainably sourced Palm Oil since 2015. Many of our suppliers that utilize Palm Oil are committed to working with oil suppliers to support the development of a sustainable, cost-effective market for palm oil to prevent the deforestation of lands.

With regard to environmental criteria, the assessments required by ProForest and RSPO 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 vendor’s source is as described above, it is impossible and disingenuous 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. However, for those products where the palm oil is sourced as a commodity, it is an ongoing process to work with these remaining suppliers to move towards a verified sustainable source. (Emphasis added.) We definitely appreciate your input, as we truly depend on customer feedback to help us determine how we do things. Hope this information helps and thanks again for reaching out.

Customer Relations
Trader Joe’s

What the serious Fuck!?

“…[I]t is impossible and disingenuous 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.”

So I wrote them back. Shocked that they find this acceptable.


I responded. You didn’t reply. I find this evasive.

You used to get your palm oil from South America. No more?! So back to Indonesia, who is deforesting faster than any nation on earth for palm oil!

So far no response. That’s not good.

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