L'OCCITANE's Position on using Palm Oil

Intensive palm oil farming in South East Asia has had a devastating effects on tropical forests and the habitat of wild animals. Because of this, since 2001 L’Occitane has been a member of the RSPO (www.rspo.org), a non-profit organisation that establishes sustainable palm oil production, which is certified to have no negative impact on people, animals or the environment. Most of our products (including the full Bonne Mere soap range) now use RSPO certified, segregated* and sustainable palm oil. By 2015 all of our products and soaps will be made with RSPO traceable and sustainable palm oil only. In parallel, we have started an ambitious project for the supply of palm oil from old village palm groves in West Africa. The land is farmed organically and the oil is fair trade. This ethical approach is more demanding and more costly, and it will take time to implement, but it will offer us the same strong guarantees that we already have with our existing fair trade shea butter network

* SG: Segregated. High traceability throughout the production and processing chain.

What is palm oil? 
Palm oil is extracted from the fruit of the palm tree, which grows in tropical regions. This tree produces fruits all year round, ensuring an excellent yield for palm oil producers. Palm oil is the most consumed vegetable oil in the world, ahead of both soy and sunflower oil. It is frequently used in food products; its use in personal care products only represents 5 to 10% of worldwide production. 

Why is there such controversy about palm oil? 
•Because of its impact on biodiversity. Intensive oil palm farming can lead to the destruction of tropical forests and endanger certain animal species. This is already the case in some areas of Indonesia and Malaysia. 

•Because of its impact on health food. Palm oil is said to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity, due to its high concentration of saturated fatty acids. Excess dietary consumption of palm oil should be avoided. If palm oil is applied to the skin, however, there is no negative effect whatsoever

Why have we continued using palm oil in our formulas? 
•The production of this oil allows hundreds of thousands of farmers in Asia and Africa to earn a living. Boycotting palm oil would clearly have major repercussions on the standard of living of these farmers and their families.

 •Bearing in mind the amounts of oil consumed and the hectares of oil palm trees cultivated, replacing palm oil with another oil would only shift the problem of deforestation to other crops, such as soy or copra. 

•Finally, it is difficult to remove or replace the palm oil in cosmetic formulas. We do not purchase palm oil directly but use, for example, soap flakes that contain it. Palm oil has a good saponification index and its high content of lauric acid helps give soap its hardness, cleansing effect and long-lasting lather.