Palm Oil: A Tropical Treasure with Global Impact and Unique Qualities

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Some derivatives of palm oil. Photo by:

PALMOILMAGAZINE, JAKARTA – Originally native to West Africa, specifically from Angola to Senegal, palm oil (Elaeis Guineensis Jacq.) is among the 17 food oils traded globally. It serves as an ingredient in approximately 10 food products traded worldwide.

Palm oil thrives optimally in equatorial regions with tropical and humid conditions, featuring relative humidity (~85%), temperatures ranging from 24°- 32°C annually, abundant sunshine, and approximately 2,000 millimeters of rainfall.

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Indonesia, blessed with favorable agro-climatic conditions, has emerged as the world’s leading palm oil producer, contributing over 44% of global production.

Also Read: Favorable Climate Conditions in Enhancing Palm Oil Productivity

This prominence has led palm oil to be designated as a key national commodity in Indonesia. Derived from fresh fruit bunches (FFB), palm oil possesses distinct and advantageous characteristics compared to other food oils. Understanding these characteristics is crucial for maximizing the benefits of palm oil as a primary commodity.

The first, palm oil is known as safe oil for too long. This plant is known as palm oil producer, natural oil that men consume. Archeology notes found in Abydos, Egypt described that palm oil has been used for about 5.000 years ago.

The application in the original country could be more than the years. The history of palm oil use which took for so long and spread to many countries showed that palm oil is trusted and known by the people as the safe oil.

The second, palm oil produces two main/kinds of oil. It is different from other vegetable oils. Palm oil tree produces two kinds and the two can be processed to be kinds of derivative products. FFB is full of oil.

FFB consists of shell and bunch (29%), seed or palm kernel (11%), and flesh (60%).  The pressing process (i) flesh of FFB produces crude palm oil (CPO) and (ii) palm kernel to produce crude palm kernel oil (CPKO); These two oils have chemical characteristics, different unique nutrients. In the implementation, CPO gets more processes to be palm cooking oil that it in CPKO.

The third, palm oil has many or wide application. It is potential to be applied in food, and non-food needs. In food, palm oil is used/processed as palm cooking oil, shortening, margarine, vanaspati, cocoa butter substitutes, and others.

For non-food application, palm oil can be processed to be oleochemical, biodiesel, and other non-food industries, such as, pharmacy. But the main applications are for food sectors still. (*)

By: Prof. Dr. Purwiyatno Hariyadi, 2010

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