To millions, Nutella is a delicious hazelnut and chocolate flavored spread, but to France’s Environment Minister, it’s a driver of global warming and environmental destruction.
Appearing on French television last week, Segolene Royal said:
We have to replant a lot of trees because there is massive deforestation that also leads to global warming. We should stop eating Nutella, for example, because it’s made with palm oil.
Royal added that “oil palms have replaced trees, and therefore caused considerable damage to the environment” and recommended that the makers of Nutella use “other ingredients” to make their delicious spread.
Her comments unleashed a media firestorm as news outlets ran stories about Royal’s claim that Nutella was harming the environment. But in just days, Royal’s attempts to label Nutella as environmentally unfriendly epically failed of its own weight.
Ferrero, the Italian company that makes Nutella, quickly issued a statement claiming its palm oil is “100 percent certified as sustainable according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.”
“Ferrero sources [sic] approximately 170,000 metric tons of palm oil, out of a worldwide production of 60 million metric tons, meaning that Ferrero’s impact on the palm oil supply chain represents less than 0.3 percent,” the company said in its statement.
“The company has made efforts to produce palm oil sustainably,” Ferrero added. “For instance, it launched a Palm Oil Charter in 2013 in order to address the causes of deforestation. The charter committed the company to sourcing palm oil responsibly, while protecting animals, the environment and the rights of workers.”
Even environmentalists would not back Royal’s calls to stop eating Nutella. Activists said boycotts weren’t the answer to stopping palm oil production and that Nutella was one of the more ecologically responsible companies on this issue.
“[S]imply boycotting products containing palm oil — or any other commodity linked to deforestation — will not stop the destruction,” Greenpeace International piled on in a statement. “And as far as consumer companies go, Ferrero, the maker of Nutella, is actually one of the more progressive consumer-facing companies when it comes to palm oil sourcing.”
“Responding to the demands of their customers, Ferrero was one of the first companies to announce a policy to end the use of deforestation palm oil,” the eco-group said.
Italian politicians reacted to Royal’s comments by publicly showing support for Nutella. The New York Post reported that “Agnese Renzi, the wife of Italy’s prime minister, was shown by Italian media ordering a pancake filled with the spread for her daughter Ester.”
“Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti tweeted he would eat bread and Nutella for dinner,” The Post reported.
“A thousand excuses for the controversy over #Nutella,” Royal tweeted out just two days after her call to stop eating Nutella. “Agreed, progress made should be [recognized].”
Royal, of course, had no evidence to backup her claim that Nutella was contributing to global warming through deforestation. She issued an apology just two days after her initial comments.
“A thousand apologies for the row over Nutella,” she tweeted. “Okay to showcase progress.”
This report, by Michael Bastasch, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.