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Building Better Badges: Palm Oil

Giki’s aim is to inspire people to make small, regular changes which are good for them, better for the environment and fairer to others. We also look to make small, regular changes to Giki in order to help support our users in their quest to buy more sustainably. Here we talk about some of the most recent changes at Giki. We know we will never be perfect, but we hope that by constantly listening to our users and improving we’ll get better and better over time.

Sustainable palm oil

Understanding whether the product you are buying contains palm oil, and whether that palm oil is sustainable, is a tough task for most consumers. Palm oil, and its derivatives, have many different names and there is often very little on pack information about the type of palm oil that companies use. Despite these challenges many people want to understand more about palm oil because the effects of unsustainable palm oil are so great including: deforestation; habitat loss and extinction risk for species such as the orangutan; climate change and the social impact of large-scale plantations.

We’ve tried to make this complex issue a little clearer with our new sustainable palm oil badge. Giki looks for various ingredients to check whether palm oil is in your product and then compares it against the type of palm oil used by that company. A sustainable palm oil badge means the product contains palm oil that has been traced from sources certified by RSPO and the company has a commitment, by 2020, to achieve sustainable palm oil across their supply chain. Is it enough? Not yet, we’d like to see no deforestation, no peat and no exploitation pledges but we hope it will help people understand more about the products they buy and the companies they buy them from.

Ready meals and animal welfare

An increasing amount of meat and fish comes with certification highlighting good animal welfare. However, this is far less prevalent in ready meals. To help users discover which ready meals have good animal welfare they can use the updated animal welfare badge which looks first to see if a product contains animal products and, if so, whether it also has the animal welfare certifications we look for.

Some users have asked us why we don’t award animal welfare badges to vegetarian products. The reason is that we believe the decision to be vegetarian, vegan, meat eating, flexitarian, pescatarian or even reducetarian (yes, it’s a thing) is a personal one and not one that we should award, or not award, badges for. What we want to show is that if people have chosen to eat animal products then those animals have been treated fairly. It’s a live debate in the Giki community and we’d love to hear your views.

New data from Tesco

Giki users have been doing a great job of adding Tesco data to our library but with thousands of products it’s a big task. However, we have now found a way to start adding Tesco product data to our library and so some Tesco products will now appear in the app when you scan them. Unfortunately, the amount of information that we receive from Tesco is not the same as from other supermarkets and, as a result, the number of badges that we can award may often be less than comparable products. We will continue to work on this over the coming months. Tesco’s website has more information for anyone who wants to check for more information (note: we don’t scrape websites for data as we don’t feel it fits with our principles).