Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Palm Oil

Palm oil is an edible plant oil and is derived from the fruit of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). It is not to be confused with palm kernel oil derived from the kernel of the same fruit (raw palm kernel oil lacks carotenoids and is not red) .  Naturally reddish in color because of a high beta-carotene content, palm oil, along with coconut oil, is one of the few highly saturated vegetable fats.  Like all vegetable oils, palm oil does not contain cholesterol. Palm oil is a common cooking oil in the tropical belt of Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of Brazil. Its increasing use in the commercial food industry in other parts of the world is buoyed by its lower cost.

Palm oil products are made using milling and refining processes.  Melting and degumming removes impurities. Then the oil is filtered and bleached. Next, physical refining removes smells and coloration, to produce "refined bleached deodorized palm oil", or RBDPO, which are used as an important raw material in the manufacture of soaps, washing powder and other hygiene and personal care products.  RBDPO is the basic oil product sold on the world's commodity markets.

Palm oil, like other vegetable oils, can be used to create biodiesel. 

In 2008, global production of oils and fats stood at 160 million tonnes. Palm oil and palm kernel oil were jointly the largest contributor, accounting for 48 million tonnes or 30% of the total output. Soybean oil came in second with 37 million tonnes (23%). About 38% of the oils and fats produced in the world were shipped across oceans. Of the 60.3 million tonnes of oils and fats exported around the world, palm oil and palm kernel oil make up close to 60%; Malaysia, with 45% of the market share, dominates the palm oil trade.

Indonesia: As of 2009, Indonesia was the largest producer of palm oil, surpassing Malaysia in 2006, producing more than 20.9 million tonnes.

Malaysia: In 2008, Malaysia produced 17.7 million tonnes of palm oil on 4,500,000 hectares (17,000 sq mi) of land, and was the second largest producer of palm oil, employing more than 570,000 people. Malaysia is the world's second largest exporter of palm oil. About 60% of palm oil exports from Malaysia are shipped to China, the European Union, Pakistan, United States and India. They are mostly made into cooking oil, margarine, specialty fats and oleochemicals (analogous to petrochemicals derived from petroleum).

Nigeria: As of 2011, Nigeria was the third-largest producer, with more than 2.5 million hectares (6.2×10^6 acres) under cultivation. Until 1934, Nigeria had been the world's largest producer. Both small- and large-scale producers participated in the industry

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. RSPO is a not-for-profit association that represents stakeholders from seven sectors of the palm oil industry - oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs and social or developmental NGOs - to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.  It has over 450 member organisations that are from the different stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain from the Palm Oil Growers to the Palm Oil Processors and Traders, Banks and Investors, Consumer Goods Manufactures, Retailers, Environmental Organisations (NGOs) and Social Organisations (NGOs). The seat of the association is in Zurich, Switzerland, while the secretariat is currently based in Kuala Lumpur with a satellite office in Jakarta.

The use of palm oil has become controversial with some environmental activist groups because it has led to removal of rainforests in parts of Indonesia in order to make space for oil-palm plantations. This has resulted in acreage losses of the natural habitat of the orangutan.

The Center believes palm oil can be produced in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. (Wikipedia)


American Palm Oil Council

Green Palm



Malaysian Palm Oil Board

Neste Oil

Palm Oil HQ

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