Friday, 27 May 2016 from Unmask Palm Oil and Zoos Victoria

The majority of New Zealand and Australians agree that palm oil should be labelled on food products and expect their Governments to mandate it according to recent polling.

The dual-nation poll by UMR and commissioned by Zoos Victoria showed 92% of New Zealanders support palm oil labelling (95% females and 90% males) with the strongest support in urban areas (93%) compared to rural areas (88%).

In Australia, 84% support transparent palm oil labelling (88% female and 80% male) with the strongest support in regional areas.

Reasons for support include the right for all consumers to know what is in their food and the freedom to make choices about it accordingly.

Older New Zealanders and Australians (50+) are the most supportive of palm oil labelling with 97% and 92% respectively.

Ben Dowdle, Campaign Director of the New Zealand-based campaign, Unmask Palm Oil, an Australasian wide campaign for mandatory labelling of palm oil, said that while the polling was heartening, political action has been frustratingly slow.

“We have been having a public discussion in our region about the need for transparent labelling of palm oil for the last decade,” Mr Dowdle said. “People expect politicians to act so that consumers have the right to know what is in their food. How they use that right is up to them, but the message is clear, our community wants palm oil labelled and expects Governments to act.”

Zoos Victoria’s lead campaigner for palm oil labelling, Emily Dunstan said the poll showed the community wants the right to know the impact of their food purchases.

“New Zealand and Australian food manufacturers are still allowed to label palm oil as ‘vegetable oil’,” Ms Dunstan said. “So we have no idea if our food is contributing to the extinction of the Sumatran Orangutan, Elephant and Tiger. Palm oil that has been produced in an unsustainable way is a major threat to the survival of these species. We could lose them in our lifetime.”

The Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation will meet later this year to consider a suite of changes to food labelling including a recommendation to label the source of all oils including palm oil.

UMR polled 1,124 New Zealanders in April 2016 with a margin of error plus or minus 2.9% and polled 1,003 Australians in late February 2016 with a margin of error plus or minus 3%.

Unmask Palm Oil is calling on people to contact members of the Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation at


Media contacts:

Ben Dowdle, Campaign Director, Unmask Palm Oil +64 21 0611 901 Jacquie O’Brien, GM Communications, Zoos Victoria +61 409 115 003