German ice cream producers do not believe in sustainability

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The cultivation of coconut palms threatens biodiversity and contributes to the further clearing of the rainforests. But the ice cream manufacturers in Germany rely on the oil of the palm trees, the WWF complains.

Berlin (dpa) – German ice cream producers apparently hardly meet any requirements for ecological sustainability. This emerges from a study by the WWF Germany environmental foundation.

According to this, coconut oil, for example, is often bought without certification and rapeseed and sunflower oil are imported from overseas.

In particular, the trend among ice cream makers from palm oil to coconut fat is bad for the environment. Palm oil requires less acreage because the yield of the oil palm, with an average of about 3.8 tons of oil per hectare, is far higher than that of coconut oil with 0.7 tons of oil per hectare, said WWF.

In order to stop the clearing of rainforests, the organization is therefore calling for a supply chain law. This should oblige companies to respect environmental standards and human rights in their production chains. According to the Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry (BDSI), however, a European standard is required here and not a national law.

According to the WWF, the cultivation of coconut palms also threatens biodiversity – to an even greater extent than palm oil. “Anyone who sells non-certified coconut oil as a green alternative to the customer does eyewashing,” criticized the land use and sustainable biomass consultant at WWF, Ilka Petersen.

The BDSI replied that there is little sustainably produced or certified coconut fat worldwide. One reason for this is that there is no certification system for the industrial sector for the cultivation of coconut palms that is comparable to the cultivation of oil palms. In addition, according to the BDSI, German producers have almost exclusively processed coconut fat for ice cream with vegetable fats. Contrary to the WWF assumption, a change from palm oil to coconut fat has not taken place recently.

In 2019, 557 million liters of ice cream were consumed in Germany – 8.3 liters per capita. Around 22,000 tons of coconut fat were processed. “In relation to the amount of ice cream made in Germany in 2019, that’s a 5.5 percent share,” said the BDSI. The most important raw material for ice cream is milk.

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