/ ©: James Morgan - WWF-International

Palm Oil

Your shampoo, your ice cream, your margarine, your lipstick – all contain palm oil.

Demand is still growing, as are oil palm plantations... but at what price to tropical forests and the biodiversity found there?

The most popular vegetable oil

Palm oil is used for food products, detergents, cosmetics and – increasingly – biofuel.

Global production of palm oil has doubled over the last decade. By 2000, palm oil was the most produced and traded vegetable oil (FAO 2002), accounting for 40% of all vegetable oils traded internationally. By 2006, the percentage had risen to 65% (FAO).

Worldwide demand for palm oil is expected to double again by 2020. New plantations are being developed and existing ones are being expanded in Indonesia, Malaysia and other Asian countries, as well as in Africa and Latin America.

But this expansion comes at the expense of tropical forest – which forms critical habitat for a large number of endangered species.

Learn more about palm oil

The basics

Sustainable palm oil production
 

The rising popularity of vegetable oils

Cultivation of vegetable oil crops has increased faster than any other major type of food or industrial agricultural crop in the past 40 years.

Likewise, per capita human consumption of vegetable oils has increased more rapidly during the past 30 years than any other food.

Economic growth is certainly one reason that more consumers, particularly in China and India, can afford to purchase more vegetable oils. However, this trend also suggests that more people prefer to have a higher percentage of their food prepared with vegetable oils.

Sustainable Palm Oil and Small Holders

  •  / ©: RSPO
  • Palm oil facts

    • Oil palms produce more per hectare of land than any other oil-producing crop
    • Palm oil has surpassed soy oil as the world’s most popular vegetable oil
    • Palm oil is used in about 50% of all packaged food products in supermarkets today
    • Palm oil is used in a wide range of foods (e.g. margarine, ice cream) and non-food products (e.g. shampoos, soap, cosmetics) to make them more ‘creamy’

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