Conservation advocates say palm oil production is responsible for intensive deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, leading to the slaughter of around 50 endangered orangutans a week and making Indonesia the world’s third highest man-made carbon emitter, according to Greenpeace.

Cadbury has bowed to consumer pressure and stopped using palm oil in its dairy milk chocolate. The confectionary giant caused a furore when it was revealed it had substituted cocoa butter with vegetable fat including palm oil. Palm oil is a contentious ingredient with reports blaming its plantations for huge contributions to global warming and intensive habitat destruction leading to the deaths of orang-utans in Indonesia and Malaysia.

 Cadbury New Zealand managing director Matthew Oldham said he was “really sorry” and that the decision was in direct response to consumer feedback, including hundreds of letters and emails. “At the time, we genuinely believed we were making the right decision, for the right reasons. But we got it wrong,” he said.

“Now we’re putting things right as soon as we possibly can, and hope Kiwis will forgive us. The change will be made within the next few weeks, he said.

 Members of the nearly 3500-strong Facebook group ‘Take palm oil out of Cadbury chocolate bars’ were jubilant at this morning’s news. “Power to the people”, said one member.

 “Well done NZ! Excellent… but a shame for Cadbury as I have learnt that other chocolate is good too!” another commented. Auckland Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken also congratulated Cadbury on their decision. He said they had met Cadbury and made their position clear. They would now be restocking Cadbury products in the zoo. Mr Wilcken said it was an issue they had been trying to raise the profile of for some time and they would continue to do so, calling it the “single biggest threat to the survival of orang-utans in the wild”.

Palm oil is derived from the fruit and kernels of the oil palm and is used in cosmetics, cleaning products and many processed foods. Much of the oil comes from land where existing rainforest has been slashed and burned to make way for Palm oil plantations. Three quarters of all palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia where rainforests – housing the Bornean and Sumatran orangutans and other flora and fauna – are being destroyed.

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