Zoos SA Defends Unilever Partnership
Tuesday, 12th August 2014 at 4:43 pm
A battle is underway between a small South Australian ice-cream manufacturer and a multinational company, Unilever, to be the cream in between a Not for Profit in need of a major sponsor – Zoos SA.
Pressure is mounting on the Adelaide Zoo to reverse its decision to dump local ice cream company Golden North in favour of a deal with Unilever that distributes ice-cream that includes palm oil in its product.
The decision by Zoos SA to partner with Unilever and to end a contract with Golden North, comes after the local producer said it spent a year eliminating palm oil from its products as part of a zoo campaign to avoid the ingredient.
The production of palm oil is widely considered a factor in destruction of rainforests, the habitat of orangutans and other endangered species that Zoos SA promotes.
South Australia Senator Nick Xenophon has jumped in on the debate and is leading a push to have the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia reverse its decision to reject Golden North ice cream in favour of foreign multinational Unilever with its Streets Ice Cream, which has palm oil.
“Since 2009 Adelaide Zoo ran a 'no palm oil' policy and Golden North completely revamped its supply chain, removing the ingredient entirely from its products,” Senator Xenophon said.
“Now it has emerged the Zoo had signed, due to 'commercial-in-confidence' reasons, an exclusive deal with foreign multinational-owned Streets Ice Creams, which contain palm oil.
“From 2009 Adelaide Zoo ran a ‘no palm oil’ policy and Golden North completely revamped its supply chain, removing the ingredient entirely from its products, as part of the Zoo’s wider community campaign to avoid palm oil.”
Senator Xenophon says he has been swamped with the positive response to the petition and also the Facebook campaign Don’t Palm Off Golden North.
Zoos SA has responded with its own statement saying: “We thank the public for their feedback and genuine concern in regards to Zoos SA's partnership with Unilever.
“We recognise that this is a sensitive topic and assure the decision was not made lightly.”
Zoos SA chief executive Elaine Bensted said as a Not for Profit conservation charity they relied heavily on the generosity of the public and corporate support and valued these relationships.
“Without this support we would not be able to achieve our mission of saving species from extinction and connecting people with nature, enabling us to contribute to many critical conservation projects at a local and international level,” Bensted said.
“Zoos SA is committed to working with organisations that are making real progress to support sustainable practices and the preservation of the environment and wildlife. This was demonstrated through our partnership with Golden North, who at the time of entering into a partnership with us, were using unsustainable non-certified palm oil.
“Through our work with Golden North, and their review of their supply chain, Golden North were able to publically state that they were 100% palm oil free in August of 2012, two years into the partnership with us. This was a great achievement and it has allowed Golden North to market this new status to their current and potential new customers,” she said.
“We see our recent partnership with Unilever as a new opportunity to help drive positive change, this time with one of the world’s largest food companies. Through engaging with them we are able to dramatically increase the scale of our conservation efforts and impact.
“The new agreement between Zoos SA and Unilever includes a number of targets and reporting mechanisms, including an exit clause that will ensure we are able to monitor progress against the commitments made.
“Should we at any time feel that they have not met these targets, or have moved away from their commitment to buy certified sustainable palm oil from traceable sources, we will be able to terminate the agreement.
“Unilever are also corporate supporters of Zoos Victoria, Taronga Zoo and Perth Zoo with Streets products sold across these zoos. Zoos Victoria, Taronga Zoo and Zoos SA are key drivers of the Don’t Palm Us Off campaign, which advocates for the use of sustainable palm oil.
“As a collective group Australian zoos have immense buying power and are well placed to support positive social advocacy in regards to the use of sustainable palm oil.”
The local ice-cream company Golden North went on Facebook to thank people for their support.
“As many of you have heard Adelaide Zoo have decided to replace our palm oil free ice cream with another company's product that does use palm oil. We are obviously very disappointed to lose Adelaide and Monarto Zoos as customers, however have been overwhelmed by your messages of support,” the statement said.
“It is very comforting to see the level of support consumers have for the protection of endangered species by ceasing destruction of rainforests to enable palm oil production.”