Sustainability Beyond The Fish

December 16, 2020

Over the last 10 years, the fish frying industry has made real progress when it comes to the sustainability.

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Complete Sustainability for Fish & Chip Shops – Choosing the Right Frying Oils

Over the last 10 years, the fish frying industry has made real progress when it comes to the sustainability and sourcing of the fish. 

However, in other areas, the progress has been slower – and this is particularly true when it comes to the kinds of frying oils used across the sector.

In this article, Gary Lewis, Head of Business Development for KTC Edibles, current president of NEODA and part of the UK Sustainable Palm Oil Roundtable, explains. 

He examines how the fish and chip sector, and the wider foodservice industry can make the right decisions when it comes to the environmentally friendly sourcing of frying oils – with a particular focus on palm oil.

Sustainability and Frying Oils – The Issues Explained

In the UK, the vast majority of chip shops use either palm oil or beef dripping for all their frying. From a performance perspective, both are excellent options. The downside is that both can have real issues when it comes to sustainability.

The issues with beef dripping are the same facing the beef and dairy industries. Raising cattle takes up a lot of land and water, and it is an energy hungry process. Methane produced by cows is also seen as a significant contributor to global warming. In areas where land needs to be cleared to raise cattle, it can lead to the destruction of forests and rainforests. This compounds the environmental issues, by removing trees, displacing indigenous peoples and destroying habitat of some of the world’s most endangered species. 

Palm oil is the single most efficient oil crop on the planet. In terms of land to yield, you can get more edible oil from palm than any other animal fat or vegetable oil. The downside is that palm only grows in the tropics, and unsustainable farming practices can lead to the widespread clearance of rainforests – with the same devastating impact.

It’s for this reason that palm oil use has become so controversial. Few outlets promote their use of palm oil. Instead, they prefer to call it ‘vegetable oil’.


Working Towards a Sustainable Future for Palm Oil

Over the past 15 years, and particularly over the past decade, there has been huge progress towards creating sustainable options for palm oil. 

This is, in large part, thanks to the combined efforts of organisations promoting sustainable palm oil, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Working with industry, they have developed and implemented new standards for sustainability and certification schemes to ensure compliance. In this period, the global palm industry has invested heavily in overcoming supply chain and logistics challenges to improve traceability and availability of sustainably produced palm. 

10 years ago, it was incredibly difficult to get hold of sustainable palm. Today, RSPO certified sustainable palm oil is widely available worldwide. 

More recently, an increasing number of palm oil companies have embraced No-deforestation, No-peat and No-Exploitation policies (NDPE), further improving the sustainability credentials of the industry.

The result is that today, palm oil can be a truly sustainable option – as long as outlets make the right decisions when it comes to purchasing.


The Fish and Chip Industry – Bridging the Sustainability Gap 

In the UK, retail businesses and manufacturers have embraced certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). As a result, 70% of all the palm oil used in the UK carries some form of sustainability certification. 

If we are to get to 100% sustainable palm oil, fast food outlets and fish and chip shops will need to follow suit and make the switch to certified sustainable options. 

The foodservice industry as a whole has lagged behind retailers and manufacturers – but we are starting to see real change. More and more fish and chip shops are making sustainability and traceability a selling point, and for outlets who understand and care about the issue, it has never been easier or more cost-effective to move to certified sustainable. 

There is an abundant supply, and there are sustainable options that are ideal for frying, such as the KTC Hi Fry range.

Sustainable Options for Fryers 

When it comes to purchasing certified sustainable frying oil, there are a few options:

  • Identity Preserved – sustainable palm oil, fully traceable from a single certified source
  • Segregated – sustainable palm oil taken from a range of different certified sources
  • Mass Balance – sustainable oil mixed with non-certified palm oil (but only the quantity of sustainable oil put in is sold as certified sustainable)

Here at KTC, we have made it our mission to make Segregated the minimum standard for palm oil across the UK. As part of this process, we have already begun to phase out all non-sustainable products. By 2022, we will only sell 100% certified sustainable palm oil.


Identity Preserved – The Gold Standard for Palm Oil

We’re seeing a growing number of fish and chip shops who pride themselves on the traceability of their products. Many now display information about how and where their fish is caught, right down to the name of the trawler! Others name the farm where the potatoes used to make their chips are grown.

We haven’t heard about any that talk about where their frying oil comes from!

Choosing an Identity Preserved palm oil allows fish and chip shops to do just that. It offers complete traceability through the supply chain, including the name of the mill and the plantation. This is the gold standard when it comes to sustainable palm oil – and perfect for outlets who are serious about sustainability.

Until recently, identity preserved palm oil has not been widely available on the market, but it is now. Earlier this year, we launched Palmax IP, a fully traceable, (RSPO) certified palm oil sourced from Daabon, a global leader in sustainable agriculture. 

In the coming months, we have plans to expand the availability of identity preserved pal oil products, to include both palm olein and high oleic palm. High oleic palm oil will offer significant performance benefits over standard palm, providing a real alternative to hydrogenated palm oil -which is being banned in the food service sector from April 2021.

The palm we use for our IP products is grown at Daabon’s own palm plantation in Northern Colombia, before being milled in Daabon’s own refinery. The company holds a wealth of sustainability accreditations and memberships, including Rainforest Alliance, Palm Oil Innovation Group and RSPO certification – offering the absolute highest standards in palm oil sustainability. 


Additional Information

Additional information about Palm Oil Sustainability and the RSPO can be found at https://www.neoda.org.uk/sustainability/. Further information about KTC Edibles sustainable palm oil policy can be found at https://www.ktcoilsandfats.co.uk/sustainability - or by contacting KTC directly on 0121 505 9200.


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