This Halloween, Choose Candy That Doesn’t Harm Orangutans

Published on: October 29, 2021

By Katherine Martinko | Look for sustainable palm oil—or none at all—in the treats you buy. | Fact checked by Haley Mast

Within a few days, many of us will have hordes of lively trick-or-treaters at our front doors, their bags and baskets held out in hopes of a good candy haul. Our job as good neighbors is, of course, to comply with that, helping these children to realize their dreams of amassing the candy stash to beat all stashes. And so we buy boxes of treats ahead of the big night, supporting all the big candy brands whose delectable concoctions have become familiar favorites over the years.

The only problem is, many of these candy products—delicious though they may be—contain palm oil, and palm oil can be a terrible ingredient from the perspective of the environment and wildlife.1 Most of the time it is produced on vast plantations in Southeast Asia and South and Central America that are created through the large-scale bulldozing and burning of ancient tropical rainforests.2 When mismanaged, this destroys habitats for many vulnerable and endangered species, including orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra and sloths in Ecuador.

Why Palm Oil?

Palm oil is desirable to candy makers for the consistency it lends to confectionery. Its versatility makes it appealing to manufacturers of a broad range of products, from prepared foods and baked goods to personal care and cleaning products, which is why it’s found in 50% of items in a typical supermarket.3

WWF explains why it’s so useful: “[Palm oil] is semi-solid at room temperature, so can keep spreads spreadable; it is resistant to oxidation, so can give products a longer shelf-life; it’s stable at high temperatures, so helps to give fried products a crispy and crunchy texture, and it’s also odorless and colorless, so doesn’t alter the look or smell of food products.”

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Why You Should Get Involved
with Palm Done Right

Palm can be grown for good, bringing benefits to:

  • Our planet, due to palm oil’s land efficiency.
  • Local communities, due to the economic development oil palm production creates.
  • Our market, due to palm oil’s versatility and functionality as an ingredient, lifting product quality and performance.

Together, we can influence change for:

  • Manufacturers that are still using conflict palm oil for their products.
  • Retailers that are still listing products that contain conflict palm oil.
  • Brokers and distributors that are still supplying their customers with products that contain conflict palm oil.
  • Shoppers that have the power to vote with their dollar.

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