Meridian pledges to protect rain forests with primate-friendly range

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Meridian, the nut and seed butter brand is to cease using palm oil across its range of peanut and speciality nut butters from January 2013. It is the first major nut butter brand to make the move in the UK.

Meridian hopes that the move will encourage other food manufacturers to stop using palm oil and by doing so, help halt the mono-forestation of critically endangered wildlife habitats in countries such as Borneo.

Darren Robinson, Groups Sales Manager at Meridian brand owner 3V Natural Foods comments: Our decision to stop using palm oil reflects the caring nature of the brand and positions Meridian as Britain's first primate-friendly peanut butter.

"We've been producing nut butters at our factory in North Wales for over 30 years and although we've never been a big user of palm oil, we wanted to be the first to completely turn our back on this ingredient. Most of our lines are simply 100 per cent nuts while other Meridian products contain very high percentages of nuts with just a pinch of sea salt."

The large-scale cultivation of palm oil has been cited by environmental groups as a threat to the Orang-utan and other primates that inhabit the rainforests of Indonesia. The impact of these plantations includes deforestation, habitat loss of critically endangered species and significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Meridian has previously sourced its palm oil from ecological sources under the guidance of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil, an industry body established in 2004. But results from the company's own consumer research confirmed that shoppers are motivated to choose brands that do not contain palm oil.

By stopping all use of palm oil, Meridian is aiming to help consumers make informed purchases and in the nut butter aisle and to create a clear point of difference from rival brands.

Robinson adds: "This step will mean that we will no longer make our Brazil Nut Butter as our trials with alternative oils have proved unsatisfactory. But it does put us on a new course for future product development of nut butters that taste great without an environmental aftertaste."

About Meridian

Best known for its Almond Butter, Cashew Butter and Peanut Butters, Meridian offers a broad range of food and ingredients including nut butters, cooking sauces, oils and fruit spreads. It has a retail value in excess of £12m.

The brand's nut butter offering has shown stellar growth in the past year. Nationally the nut butter sector is showing strong year-on-year value growth of 11.0 per cent to £48.7m*. Meridian's value growth is the fastest among the established players with an impressive 145 per cent leap from last year's figures, representing over £397k of new sales. The sector is forecast to sustain annual growth of around 10 per cent during the next two years**.

ENDS

*Nielsen Scantrack 52 w/e 29 September 2012 ** Euromonitor 2012