Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil high in saturated fats and free of trans fats. Oil palm flourishes in the humid tropics and produces high yield when grown 10 degrees north and south of the equator. Every oil palm tree requires approximately 3m diameter clear around the base of each tree to allow full growth. Oil palm is highly productive crop which is capable of yielding more oil from less land than any other vegetable oil in existence. One oil palm tree will produce ongoing fruit for up to 30 years deeming the crop as high yielding and sustainable..
Palm fruit develops in dense bunches weighing 10 kilograms (kg) or more and containing more than a thousand individual fruits similar in size to a small plum which tree produces 2 types of oil. Palm oil (PO) is obtained from the flesh of the fruit and Palm Kernel Oil (PKO) is produced by extracting the oil from the internal seed (Kernel).
Palm Oil is also used to manufacture bio fuel and has become what is called the green fuel option for Motor Vehicles, shipping and Aircraft fuel. Palm is also used as feed for livestock named as palm kernel cake (PKC) which is a by-product of palm kernel oil. PKC is considered a medium grade protein feed used to fatten cattle and other livestock.
Palm Oil is used in around 50% of products consumers purchase and use on a daily basis. Palm Oil and derivatives otherwise known as fractions of the oil are used in the manufacture of prepackaged food, cosmetics, cleaning products, hair care, soaps and personal care items. Palm Wax is used in the manufacture of candles.
Why do brands use palm oil in their products?
There are a few reasons the food industry uses palm oil. The main reason is that it is the cheapest of vegetable oils. Due to pressure from the large supermarket chains for products to sell at a low price, cooking oil is one of the areas where price cuts can be made to allow for profit margin.
Palm oil is also a very bland cooking oil so it does not affect the taste of products. Palm oil also increases shelf life of pre- packaged food and finally, palm oil has a very high smoke point so it is perfect for rapid frying products such as 2 min noodles etc.
Personal care and cleaning products use palm oil for different reasons. Palm oil is extremely versatile and is used to manufacture many ingredients due to its high fatty acid content which is required to manufacture emulsifiers and surfactants.