8 things to know about palm oil

palm oil benefit

palm oil benefit?

It is a vegetable oil that can be eaten. It is made from the fruit of oil palm trees, which are called Elaeis guineensis. The fleshy fruit can be squeezed to make crude palm oil, and the kernel, or stone, in the middle of the fruit can be crushed to make palm kernel oil. Oil palm trees are native to Africa. Over 100 years ago, they were brought to South-East Asia as an ornamental crop. Now, more than 85%  of the palm oil in the world comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, but 42 other countries also make palm oil.

Palm oil benefit

What exactly is palm oil

What does it come in?

Palm oil is in almost everything, from pizza, doughnuts, and chocolate to deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, and lipstick. It is in about half of the packaged goods we buy in stores. In many parts of the world, it is also used to feed animals and as a biofuel.

What does it come in

Why is palm oil in so many places?

Palm oil is a very useful oil that can be used for many different things because it has many different properties and uses. It’s semi-solid at room temperature, so it can keep¬†spreading spreadable. It’s resistant to oxidation, so it can give products longer shelf life. It’s thermally stable, so it helps fried foods stay crispy and crunchy. It’s also odourless and colourless, so it doesn’t change how food looks or smells. Palm oil is widely used as a cooking oil in Asian and African countries, just like we might use sunflower or olive oil here.

What’s the problem with palm oil?

Palm oil has been and still is a big reason why some of the world’s most biodiverse forests are being cut down. This destroys the homes of animals already in danger of going extinct, like the orangutan, pygmy elephant, and Sumatran rhino. This loss of forests and the conversion of carbon-rich peat soils send millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the air, causing climate change. There is also still some child labour and exploitation of workers. These are big problems that everyone in the palm oil industry needs to work together to solve because things don’t have to be this way.

palm oil

What are the ways out?

Things can change, and there are better ways to make palm oil. The Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil, or RSPO, was started in 2004 because more and more people were worried about how palm oil was affecting the environment and society. The RSPO has a production standard that says how to make and get palm oil in the best way. This standard is supported by most of the global industry. As well as agreeing to buy and use RSPO-certified palm oil in all their operations worldwide, we encourage companies to be open about how they use and get their palm oil. Hence, they know who they are buying it from, where it was made, and investing in and supporting smallholder programmed and sustainable landscape initiatives. We can’t speed up the move to a mainstream, sustainable palm oil industry until we have all these things.

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Why don’t we just use a different kind of vegetable oil?

Palm oil is a very productive crop. It makes more oil per acre of land than any other vegetable oil crop. Palm oil meets 35% of the world’s demand for vegetable oil, but it only takes up 10% of the land. To get the same amount of alternative oils like soybean or coconut oil, you would need anywhere from 4 to 10 times more land. This would just move the problem to other parts of the world and threaten other habitats and species. Also, palm oil is an important crop for emerging economies’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and millions of small-scale farmers depend on it to make a living.

Can I trust products with the RSPO seal?

The RSPO is the largest, most important, and independent third-party standard for making palm oil production more environmentally friendly. Certified palm oil protects the environment and the people who live off of it, so that palm oil can continue to play a key role in food security. Together with other groups, we help shape and change the RSPO standard to ensure it has more protections for people and the environment. In November 2018, the RSPO standard was improved. It is now an important tool that can help companies keep their promises to use palm oil that doesn’t involve cutting down trees, expanding on peat, exploiting workers, or setting fires.

palm oil tree

What are people in the UK doing?

In 2012, the UK government realized that we contributed to the problem of palm oil and that we could also help solve it. They promised that all of the palm oil used in the UK would come from sources that don’t hurt people or nature. In 2016, sustainable palm oil made up 75% of all palm oil imported to the UK. This is a big step forward, but there is still more to do to reach 100%.

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