The purpose of this paper is to determine the presence of palm oil in food products on sale, and to study and compare consumers’ opinions about this oil type in Spain (importing country) and Peru (producing country).
Recent news published in both countries, which could influence consumer perceptions, were analysed. A study on the labelling of foodstuffs in Spain was carried out, as was a survey with Spanish and Peruvian consumers.
Palm oil was found in a large number of products and in a wide range of foods, especially those from the bakery sector. The percentages of saturated fats varied substantially within the same product type. Spanish consumers showed much more interest in the labelling and information on nutritional properties, especially energy values, saturated fats and sugars, while Peruvians focused more on energy values, and protein, vitamin and mineral contents. In Spain, palm oil was considered the worst quality fat/oil and had a clearly negative effect on both health and the environment. In Peru, palm oil was neither perceived by the majority of respondents as low quality oil nor associated with negative health effects. However, they were aware of the environmental problems that could result from its production.
These results confirm that the food industry should make efforts to reduce or replace palm oil in foods, mainly in Spain, as most consumers believe that palm oil negatively affects their health and the environment.
María Jesús Lerma-García thank the Polytechnic University of Valencia for a postdoctoral contract (PAID-10-14).
Guadalupe, G.A., Lerma-García, M.J., Fuentes, A., Barat, J.M., Bas, M.d.C. and Fernández-Segovia, I. (2019), "Presence of palm oil in foodstuffs: consumers’ perception", British Food Journal, Vol. 121 No. 9, pp. 2148-2162. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-09-2018-0608
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