The ubiquity of palm oil, which appears in everything from margarine to lipstick, is now widely recognised. So to are the detrimental effects of deforestation caused by its production. So why do we keep using it?
The simple answer is it is versatile and cheap to produce (if you don’t take into account environmental costs). Its versatility comes down to two main stellar properties: an exceptionally high melting point and very high saturation levels. Some vegetable oils get close to one of the two, but currently none do both.
Oil palm is the most efficient oil seed crop in the world it is just a pity it is only grown on land within 10 degrees of the equator which is home to the rainforest.
Indonesia and Malaysia produce about 85% of the world’s palm oil. Other producer countries include Thailand, Columbia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Ecuador and Africa.
Palm oil is edible and derived from the fruits of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) which is also turned into thousands of derivative ingredients
The oil palm yields two types of oil: One is extracted from the flesh of the fruit (palm oil), and the other from the seed, or kernel (palm kernel oil).