3 September, 2021
Palm oil. The focus of many heated debates around what goes into the food we buy and eat. But as with so many things sustainability related, the answer to “what is the right thing to do about palm oil” is not black and white.
Which is why this week we were interested to see a new website from Nestle, which asks consumers to engage with the issue, think about it from Nestle’s perspective, and make the difficult decisions the company faces every single day. Beneath the surface is an interactive website where you watch a series of short explanatory videos, then make a real-world decision (e.g. should you work with small producers that continue to cut down virgin forest to produce palm oil?). Once you’ve made your choice, the consequences of your choice are revealed and the rationale behind Nestle’s choice is explained.
The videos are informative, engaging and go a long way to educate people about the different dimensions of this complex issue. While the jury is still out on whether Nestle’s current approach to palm oil sourcing and use is indeed sustainable (note that the company missed its target of 100% of palm oil sourcing being deforestation free by 2020, achieving just 70%), the main takeaway here is the power of approaches such as this in educating and engaging people. Asking “what would you do?” and exploring potential consequences highlights the difficult trade-offs that businesses are asked to make when balancing purpose and profit.
By Marie Guérinet