World Consumer Rights Day: promoting sustainable consumption and ethical production

World Consumer Rights Day: promoting sustainable consumption and ethical production

This March 15th, Orangutan Alliance would like to recognise World Consumer Rights Day 2018. A time to bring awareness across the world to unsafe, unfair and unethical practices that affect consumers. 

“Do we really need always to be able to just get anything we want at any time just because we pay money for it? And do we ever think about the often forced child labour that’s been used to grow some of these foods so that we can get them cheaply because the labour is cheap or even not paid for at all?”

Dr Jane Goodall, Environmentalist, Researcher (Chimpanzees)

Consumers International (for almost 60 years) has been tirelessly campaigning for consumer rights all over the world, and we at Orangutan Alliance are especially interested in consumer rights relating to the ethical conduct of producers and promoting sustainable consumption.                  

So what are consumer rights?

Apart from the fundamental right to access essentials (sufficient food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation); consumer rights also include the right to be protected against products, production processes and services which are hazardous to health or life.

And who polices consumer rights?

In a sense we all do. Consumer Rights are outlined in the United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection and are recognised internationally by the governments of UN member nations. But it’s up to us to let our governments know we take those consumer rights very seriously.                  

Orangutan Alliance is a consumer interest group

As a consumer interest and and product certification organisation, Orangutan Alliance is currently advocating for greater transparency in product labeling. We believe consumers have the right to know exactly which ingredients are used in the products we buy, as well as how they have been sourced.  

If you’ve been following our work you’ll know that we are raising awareness on the environmental costs of conflict palm oil and in the absence of transparency consider palm oil free options. In several countries, it’s almost impossible to know if palm oil has been used or even how its sourced during manufacturing.

What are these funny names listed below?

Oh they’re just a few of the MORE THAN 200 ways palm oil can be listed on a product label. Why not use World Consumer Rights Day to write to your local member of government and ask that palm oil be clearly labeled on consumer products and refer to your own rights to be given the facts needed to make an informed choice.










+ 200 more

Sustainable Consumption

Consumers International and World Consumer Rights Day also promotes  sustainable consumption (which we at Orangutan Alliance also support). Sustainable consumption is all about doing more with less and being a more responsible consumer.


“There is no definitive way to be a ‘sustainable and responsible consumer’. This can simply mean reconsidering a purchase; fixing or reusing an existing product; or choosing a product certified as having a beneficial environmental or social impact.”

Consumers International


Orangutan Alliance PALM OIL FREE Certification

Consumers International suggest that choosing products certified for positive social impact is a big part of being a sustainable and responsible consumer. If you aren’t already aware, Orangutan Alliance can certify consumer food, household and beauty products as 100% palm oil free. Why not use World Consumer Rights Day 2018 as your catalyst for change. Switch to ethical brands or fully traceable supply chains. Take a stand against deforestation. And a stand for the future safety of orangutans and other vulnerable species.

Take a stand for consumers everywhere

Orangutan Alliance is all about the promotion of consumer rights, ethical trading, clear product labeling.. To find out more about our work and palm oil free certification, read our blogs or visit our website Choose with your BUY. Join us.

FOOD AND DRINKS TRENDS 2018 - full disclosure on food tops the list

Do you are a friend who has an online shop or food business? Are you interested on what's new food trends are forecasted for the next year?  Then you should read this post. Mintel, a global market intelligence agency has recently published their consumer food and drinks futures trend for 2018.

They have found similar consumer sentiments to our own research here at Orangutan Alliance HQ, regarding the rise of consumer demand around ethical and environmental labelling for products.

Full disclosure on food continues to be high on the agenda as is individuality and sustainability. We have listed below some general themes from their report.

1. Full Disclosure

Full disclosure on food labels is a growing trend that is here to stay.

Internationally, consumers are looking for transparency in the supply chain not just for health and safety reasons but also for ethical and environmental reasons. Many consumers around the world lack trust in regulatory systems and manufacturers because of product recalls, scandals and suspicion.

Ethical and environmental claims on packaging such as environmentally friendly, palm oil free, animal and human welfare claims has seen a rise of 22% between 2016 and 2017.  Consumer skepticism has seen the need for food and drink manufacturers to be forthcoming about their ingredients, production processes and supply chains.

According to Mintel, Food and drink transparency serve a single purpose – to help consumers feel more confident about the safety and purity of the food and drink they purchase.

While this report was primarily done for food, we are seeing a similar trend in the beauty sector.

2.  Self Care

Consumers are looking for ways to escape stress and overwhelm in their lives, and are trying to focus back on self-care and balance.   They are developing their own definitions of what a healthy diet and lifestyle means and what permissible indulgence is. Manufacturers are responding with products that try and achieve health and indulgence.  Products following this trend include chamomile infused drinks that mix relaxation and indulgence and super juices that provide a healthy boost.

Generally consumers try to eat healthily using more natural and nutritional ingredients of fruits, vegetables, grains, and spices, but balance good food, with a healthy indulgence of occasional treats that provide relaxation and self care properties.

3. New Sensations

Encounters that appeal to multiple senses can provide consumers with relief from routine and stress. This includes feast with your eyes experiences that generate like worthy social media posts.  Texture and colour continue to be a big trend in 2018 as food and drink companies use the allure of ingredients like turmeric, matcha , activated charcoal, chunky yoghurt, tapioca pearls to create vibrant drinks and “share” worthy experiences.

4. Preferential Treatment

In the bid to save time and money consumers are sampling a variety of channels and technologies when shopping for food and drink. They are looking for prompt, affordable delivery, ease of automatic replenishment and simplicity of synchronisation with devices.

Busy consumers are attracted to e-commerce sites, apps and a variety of online and mobile options.  Technology is helping with effortless shopping, convenience and personalised recommendations.  Retailer apps will grow and continue to assist with curated content to personalise selections based on on previous purchases or search preferences.

5. Scientific Solutions to Food Supply

Some forward looking companies are developing solutions to replace traditional farms and factories with scientifically engineered ingredients such as laboratory grown meat, plant based burgers and animal free dairy. These new solutions aim to potentially alleviate some of the pressure that our global food supply is under.

While currently this trend is growing in more environmentally focussed consumers, researchers believe it will also appeal to consumers who are concerned about ingredient purity.



Food Labelling and Palm Oil: What's the issue?


In Australia it is almost impossible to know if palm oil is being used in consumer food products. More and more consumers are wanting to place ethically produced goods into their supermarket trolleys but the labelling of food products is often difficult to understand and doesn’t really incorporate environmental issues.


Under current regulations palm oil or its derivatives can be labelled on food packaging ingredient lists using generic terms like 'vegetable oil' or ‘vegetable emulsifier’. Because the words “Palm Oil” are rarely used when describing food ingredients, most consumers have no idea Palm Oil is actually in the food they are consuming (we’ve actually identified more than 200 alternative names for palm oil or ingredients sourced from or containing Palm Oil, but there are probably more).


Why should we identify Palm Oil on Food Labels?

Palm Oil has a number of unique qualities which make it a desirable ingredient in things like cakes, cookies, ice cream, packaged bread, breakfast cereal, peanut butter, pizza dough, chocolate and margarine. However Palm Oil also contains a high proportion of saturated fat. The Dietary Guidelines issued by both the Australian and New Zealand governments recommend we limit our intake of saturated fats. The Australian Heart Foundation includes Palm Oil on it’s list of unhealthy fats. But how can we reduce our consumption of saturated fats if we don’t know what exactly is in the food we buy? This is one of the key reasons why mandatory labelling of Palm Oil is so important.


Apart from the obvious health reasons, mandatory labelling of Palm Oil also puts pressure on growers of Palm Oil  and food producers to adopt sustainable practices right along the food chain. It also lets food manufacturers know that customers expect the products they buy to only contain ingredients produced ethically and without harming the environment.


What Has Being Done About Transparent Food Labelling?

As far back as 2006 an application was made to Food Standards Australia requesting clearer identification of Palm Oil on food labels. An application was made due to concerns over the destruction of rainforests from the development of palm plantations and the resulting decimation of important species like the Orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra. The application was ultimately rejected because environmental issues are outside the jurisdiction of Food Standards Australia.


Food labelling legislation only address issues like adequacy of supply, quality of ingredients or the safety of food.


“To attempt to use a domestic food standard aimed at regulating the quality and safety of domestic food supply to achieve international reform is a purpose that goes beyond the intent and scope of FSANZ Act.”


Though it’s beyond the scope of Food Safety Legislation to address environmental issues (even if they involve food products), government regulations do require the declaration of certain ingredients. To help consumers make healthier food choices, the total amount of saturated fat in a food must be displayed on the nutritional panel. It can certainly be argued that food labelling regulations currently in place do not enable consumers to make educated choices about the type of fats contained in the food they are purchasing. Especially when the Heart Foundation (as we said earlier) lists  Palm Oil among the bad fats.


Why is Palm Oil Still Not Clearly Displayed on Product Labels?

FSANZ initiated an independent Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy around 2011 and the results submitted to government. Only last November (2016) government made their final decision which (sadly), was a bit circular. Basically the report ended with a recommendation for more research before any decision is made to change food labelling. The report did note a significant proportion of surveyed Australians who supported mandatory disclosure of Palm Oil usage on product labels. Click here to read the FSANZ's report to government ministers and their response. The issue will be considered again at the next Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation meeting which is due towards the end of this year (2017). A very, very slow process.


Is Anything Happening Now to Ensure Palm Oil is Disclosed on Product Labels?

"Being allowed to disguise palm oil as vegetable oil means that Australians aren’t able to make an informed choice for themselves and for their family about what they buy at the supermarket - both from a health and an environment perspective."  

Senator Nick Xenophon

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has introduced the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Truth in Labelling—Palm Oil) Bill 2017 to Parliament. The Bill calls for clearer labelling of food products containing Palm Oil for both consumer health and environmental reasons. The Bill is currently in it’s second reading and Parliamentary debate. The adoption of new laws and amendments can be very slow, and this Bill still needs to be considered in detail as well as undergo a third reading. There are no set timelines for these procedures but you can follow the progress of the Bill by clicking here.

"There have been some significant changes to food labelling laws made in this Parliament and I welcome those changes. However, more can be done and the discontent felt by the community at the lack of action taken on this issue is growing.

"Consumers have a right to know and this Bill gives them that right.”

This Bill is currently the best option for Palm Oil labelling on products, remembering that FSANZ only deal with issues relating to Food and Consumer Safety. So things are happening slowly but Senator Xenophon’s submission to parliament needs more support from the major parties and that’s where you can help too.


What Can I Do To Help?

To assist in ensuring that food labelling clearly indicates if Palm Oil has been used in a product, you can do the following things right now.


1.      Use products certified with the Orangutan Alliance NO PALM OIL seal.

2.      Get familiar with the list of alternative names for Palm Oil.

3.      Contact your local member of parliament and a senator or two in your state. Let them know how important transparent food labelling is for the health of you and your family as well as the environment.

4.      Stay informed by joining the Orangutan Alliance mailing list, liking our Facebook Page or following us on Instagram.

5.      Spread the word about our Certification Program and the ethical products that have been certified with the NO PALM OIL SEAL.


The Power of Consumer Choice

We believe that consumers (yes that means you and all the other mums, dads, kids, friends, partners, husbands, wives, uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents) are the key to enacting positive change in our world. By choosing to only buy products produced sustainably and containing only ethical ingredients we ensure the future of (not just the orangutans) but our planet generally and ultimately ourselves.

Emergence of the New Conscious Consumer


With International Orangutan Day coming up on the 19th of August, The Orangutan Alliance, a not for profit organisation, promoting “products created with care” through a NO PALM OIL CERTIFICATION PROGRAM completed new research showing the trend and growing buying power of the emerging ‘conscious consumer.’

The trend showed that while value for money and quality was still an important choice for every day households, trust and sustainability are now considered as part of the purchase choice. The top 5 concerns of grocery buyers are when it comes to products they purchase are:

1.Country of origin

2.Presence of preservatives

3.Artificial flavours

4.Presence of palm oil

5.GMO ’s

In the light of labeling choice concerns, 70% of consumers believed a no palm oil claim and a sustainability claim would impact their purchase decision with 45% willing to pay up to 10% more for a suitable product.

“Consumers are becoming more informed, socially aware and are starting to purchase based on values.” said Maria Abadilla from the Orangutan Alliance.

“Look at successful brands like Nuttvia, Melinda’s Gluten Free Goodies, Thank You and Planet Ark who are changing the brand economy and creating products that provide solutions for the consumers and the planet.”

“If consumer demand is where change starts, then this is a starting indication for manufacturers to work towards transparency in labeling and more sustainable practices.” said Maria

Orangutan Alliance certified Australian brand Nuttvia from the makers of Natvia Sweetener is proving to be a success story, responding to both sugar and non-sustainable palm oil concerns with a product solution.

The Orangutan Alliance mission is to promote products created with care that do not contain non-sustainable palm oil in its production through its Certification Program.

Profits from this program go toward supporting grass roots projects including reforestation, conservation in areas affected by non-sustainable palm oil. The Orangutan Alliance supports clear labeling of palm oil in all products to provide consumers purchase choice.

To find out more about Orangutan Alliance visit