Consultants have quantified the economic impact of palm oil on the UK and EU economy for the first time - and suggested imports contributed £333m to UK GDP in 2012.

Europe Economics also calculated palm oil imports contributed £140m in tax revenues and were “associated” with 6,800 UK jobs. On an EU-wide basis, palm oil’s contribution to GDP stood at €5.8bn, with €2.6bn in tax revenues and 117,000 associated jobs, they said.

Palm oil is widely used in food products, and food, drink and tobacco were the sectors that contributed most in terms of palm oil-related GDP.

The report, published last week, was commissioned by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council. Palm oil has attracted controversy over its environmental impact, prompting calls for food manufacturers to reduce its use in their supply chains.

“While this report does not address the question of what might happen if palm oil imports were to be restricted thanks to some policy change or other exogenous shock, it does establish the importance of the product in European industry,” Europe Economics said. “As an affordable and available primary input for a wide range of industries palm oil is associated with substantial downstream economic activity across Europe.”