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WHAT PRODUCTS CONTAIN PALM OIL?

Today palm oil accounts for 35% of world edible vegetable oil production (Helena Varkkey, 2016 ) with 85% of this sourced from Indonesia and Malaysia.

Palm oil is used in about 50% of packaged goods consumers purchase in supermarkets and shops, but it doesn’t always appear as its name suggests (a  sample list is available here).

Different types of foods can include palm oil in them, like biscuits, chocolate, ice-cream, bread, processed foods, crackers, baked goods etc. It can also be found in other products such as household products like cleaning products, toothpaste and shampoo, make-up, cosmetics and detergents. 

The global palm oil production is expected to nearly double by 2020. We can do something about deforestation and over 193 species such as the Orangutans affected by non sustainable palm oil production by becoming more conscious consumers

Products that contain palm oil include:

Personal Hygiene: Shampoo, conditioners, soaps, toothpaste, deodorant, body lotions, shaving products, makeup.

Cleaning Products: Dishwashing, laundry detergent

Food: frozen foods, sauces, syrups, spreads, chocolates, breakfast bars, lollies, cookies, ice cream, cereals, baked goods, fast food, even food for your pets

Biofuel: Palm oil biodiesel is the worst of all biofuels (according to www.transportandenvironment.org). It releases three times the greenhouse gases emissions of fossil diesel.


WHERE DOES PALM OIL COME FROM?

It is generally agreed that palm oil originated in the tropical rainforest region of West Africa. Through rapid globalisation today palm oil is grown throughout AfricaAsia, North America, and South America. Palm oil can only be grown 10 degrees north or south of the equator putting very specific ecosystems of the world vulnerable to non sustainable palm oil practices. Essentially, this makes rainforests in these regions vulnerable, as trees are cut down and peat swamps are regularly drained and burned to make room for new palm oil plantations.

Indonesia Malaysia are the biggest palm oil producers in the world both countries account for 85% of the world’s palm oil production. The industry currently dominates two main islands in the south east Asia region: Borneo and Sumatra. This part of Asia faces the highest deforestation rate of any other tropical region which can lead to a decay in 42% of its original biodiversity by 2100 (MBC). Indonesia lost 6Mha of old-growth and selectively logged natural forests between 2000 and 2012, while Borneo, with a 73.7 million hectares (Mha) landmass lost at least 5.4Mha of planted oil-palm in 2015, with some studies finding more (Nature).

Top 6 palm oil producers by country

#1 Indonesia - Indonesia is the world's largest producer of palm oil. In 2016, Indonesia produced 34.5 million tonnes of palm oil and exported 25.1 million tonnes. The total planted area of oil palm is estimated to be around 12 million hectares and is projected to reach 13 million hectares by 2020 (nepcon)

#2 Malaysia - In 2015, production of Crude Palm Oil across the whole of Malaysia was 19.96 million tonnes (nepcon). As of 2015, palm oil plantations in Malaysia covered 5.64 million hectares of which 1.54 million hectares (27%) is found in Sabah. Though Indonesia produces more palm oil, Malaysia is the world's largest exporter of palm oil having exported 18 million tonnes of palm oil products in 2011. 

#3 Thailand -Thailand comes in third with an annual output of approximately 2 million tonnes per annum. Most of Thailand’s palm oil is grown in the southern part of the country. In one protected area, called Pru Kaching, the government is trying to reclaim land from palm oil growers. But complicating factors have mired the effort (mongabay). Thailand’s oil palm industry in the period 2017-2019 is expected to see ongoing growth as a result of higher domestic demand for palm oil, especially for using as raw materials for biodiesel industry.

#4 Colombia aims to overtake Thailand to become the world’s third largest producer of palm oil. Today, Colombia produces more palm oil than any other country in Latin America, and is the fourth-largest producer globally. Producing 1.6 million tonnes annually, Columbia accounts for 2% of global palm oil production.

#5 Nigeria - Nigeria’s palm oil industry, which once led the world, faded by the end of the last century. Up until the 60s, Nigeria was the world’s largest producer of palm oil accounting for 43% of global palm oil production (thompson). Currently Nigeria is the worlds 5th largest producer with the latest stats on reporting 0.94 million tonnes of palm oil produced by the country in one year.

6# Ecuador - The first commercial palm oil trees planter in Ecuador were in 1953. Since then, the country has become Latin America’s second largest producer of oil palm, and the world’s sixth largest. Latest stats conclude that Ecuador produces about 0.53 million tonnes of palm oil per annum.