Iceland has been forced to reverse its ban on palm oil following a shortage of sunflower oil, a staple ingredient in the supermarket’s frozen lines.
The frozen food retailer initially banned the ingredient in 2018 in a stand against tropical deforestation, but will start selling a limited range of own-label products that contain palm oil this June.
UK manufacturers have been warned that supplies of sunflower oil could run out in the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Together, the two countries account for 70% of the world’s sunflower oil.
Iceland’s managing director Richard Walker said: “The only alternative to using palm oil under the current circumstances would simply be to clear out our freezers and shelves of a wide range of staples including frozen chips and other potato products.”
He said the move was a “last resort and strictly temporary measure” and it would only use certified sustainable palm oil as an ingredient.
Walker added: All packs will, of course, clearly show palm oil in the list of ingredients, where it has been used.”
The news comes after the food regulator gave food manufacturers the green light to swap sunflower oil with rapeseed oil before they change products’ labels owing to the shortages.
Walker continued: “In many cases, we can substitute rapeseed oil, but there are some recipes where the only viable substitute for sunflower oil, either because of its processing properties or taste issues, turns out to be palm oil.”