The Oil Palm

French retailer ordered to halt anti-palm oil campaign

Last week the Commercial Court of Paris ruled against large French retailer – Système U – ordering the company to halt its anti-palm oil advertising campaign.

Palm oil growers celebrated the legal ruling as a victory against anti-palm oil campaigns which discriminate against vegetable oil producers from developing countries.

The complaint was lodged by African palm oil growers after the French retailer launched a public campaign attacking palm oil. Système U alleged that oil palm cultivation was responsible for significant environmental damage and deforestation, and that the consumption of palm oil has negative health effects.

These factual misrepresentations prompted the Côte d’Ivoire’s Association of Palm Oil Producers (Association Ivoirienne des Producteurs de Palmiers à Huile/AIPH) to bring an action against Système U in the Paris Tribunal de Commerce. The AIPH successfully argued that ‘the purpose of the campaign was solely commercial and that it lacked any basis in ecology or serious scientific analysis’.

The Tribunal de Commerce agreed with AIPH and ordered Système U to halt its anti-palm oil advertisements within 15 days. The court further ruled that failure to act would incur a penalty of €3000 per non-compliance.

The decision has been hailed as a victory for palm oil growers. Respected African economist, Thompson Ayodele, claimed the ruling as “a victory of truth – that palm oil contributes to the fight against poverty and to create jobs in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world. Système U should be ashamed of conducting such a campaign misleading and disgraceful against palm oil”.