What you need to know about palm oil

What you need to know about palm oil

You may not cook with it, but it’s in a lot of products you probably eat. And that’s not good for the planet.

Robin Shreeves


 Inside the fruit of a palm tree is an edible oil that’s widely used in food and many products you use at home. (Photo: nirapai boonpheng/Shutterstock)

In the 20 years between 1995 and 2015, global production of palm oil increased from 15.2 million tons to 62.6 million tons, according to the European Palm Oil Alliance. There’s more palm oil produced today than any other vegetable oil in the world, and the majority of it comes from Indonesia (53 percent) and Malaysia (32 percent). Other parts of the world, including Central America, Thailand and Western Africa, are beginning to increase production because the demand for it continues to increase.

The oil is found in many baked goods and packaged foods because it’s an ideal oil for these products. It has a high cooking temperature, which helps the oil keep its structure under high heat so it provides crispiness and crunchiness. The taste and smell of palm oil is neutral. It’s smooth and creamy and has an excellent mouthfeel — and, it’s a healthier alternative to trans fats, which is one of the reasons its use has increased so dramatically in the past few decades. As trans fats have been phased out for healthier options, palm oil has replaced them…