Calm, Calm, Stop the Denigratory Advertising

The Institute of Advertising Self-Regulation has ordered the stop of the campaign “Calm, Calm, There is No Palm Oil” by an Italian Nocciolata company as it is considered disparaging. Advertising against palm oil is not only bad but it expensive for companies that engage in these unfair advertising practices.

Chinese proverb: Sit down along the river bank and wait, sooner or later you will see the corpse of your enemy pass by.

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This remains true for those of us who are fighting to defend and promote science against fake news. In the end, science prevails, facts are imposed instead of lies, and the scientific method takes precedence over ideology. It was so for Galileo, it is so for palm oil.

We deal with palm oil because it is perhaps, and unfortunately, the best example of fake news. The oil obtained from the pressing of the palm fruit was – and still is – the victim of a smear campaign with commercial and ideological purposes. The victims are consumers, producing countries, and planet Earth.

Consumers are cheated by the claims “Free-from palm oil” and by the lies served by food companies, politicians and NGOs. We have taken them apart, one by one, helping the consumer to choose freely.

Millions of workers in producing countries risk losing their jobs fueling situations of difficult development and poverty due to the tantrums of the West. The Earth benefits from the sustainable plantations of oil palms more than from other crops. At the moment, palm oil cultivation is the best option because it guarantees a better balance in the relationship between man and nature, centers itself around numerous SDGs, and has greater productivity per hectare. It is the only truly sustainable and certifiable supply chain. Yet in Europe, a lie that the oil palm is the least sustainable plantation has spread. The truth is exactly the opposite. Whoever supports this narrative is responsible for the greater consumption of land resources, they do not promote sustainability, is they are an enemy of the environment. 

These campaigns lead consumers to believe that their products are by definition better in every respect, thus, they are lying shamelessly. Through studies and empirical research, we have shown that the absence of palm oil does not always correspond to a significant reduction in saturated fats or to a lower environmental impact.

We hope that this statement from the IAP will send a clear message to all food manufacturers and traders in Italy and Europe: demonizing ingredients without any scientific evidence will not be tolerated.

Furthermore, as shown by the latest data, the commercial trick of “Free-from” seems to no longer work as it once did. Consumers are now aware that it is a simple marketing trick. In fact, the sales trend is slowing down after the exploits of the previous years. The slowdown of the “Free-from” labeling is not attributable to the fact that the market is now saturated. Simply put, the surprise/novelty effect is finished.

Changing the formula of products by abandoning better quality ingredients to pursue greater sales leads only to disasters:

  • Sales trends slowing down after the exploitation in recent years;
  • Exorbitant costs incurred during product reformulation;
  • Failure to invest in sustainability.

Operators who directly and indirectly denigrate palm oil are not favoring sustainability. A responsible company would invest in a sustainable supply chain instead of boasting the absence of palm oil, especially when replacing it with less sustainable fats and oils.

The correct way is that of sustainability, not that of shortcuts and deceptions.

For Free Choice aims to promote scientific information and method in public discourse. For Free Choice also defends consumers’ choice rights against the smear and demonizing campaigns which aim to confuse them and benefit specific interests.


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