Meridian has dropped palm oil from its products to create ‘primate-friendly’ nut butters.

The company had previously used RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil but has ditched the controversial ingredient after consumer research showed strong support for a brand free from it.

Palm oil has been cited by environmental groups as a major cause of deforestation, which threatens the wildlife habitats of endangered primates, including orang-utans.

Meridian - which sells nut butters through Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado and Booths, and its peanut butter through Ocado and Holland & Barrett - will next month underline the palm oil-free commitment with the rollout of new labelling featuring an orang-utan and squirrel bearing ‘no palm oil’ and ‘100% nuts’ banners.

“These changes will build appeal to enable us to further grow market share,” said group sales manager Darren Robinson, adding that the move was backed by a £250,000 marketing push from April.

In the past 18 months, Meridian has invested £250,000 in increasing capacity and improving the speed of lines at its North Wales factory.