|Oil palm fruit in Malaysia. Palm oil may be found in half the products on an average supermarket shelf. (© Benjamin Drummond)|
So yes, it’s in your cookies, your baked goods, your margarines, your lipsticks and skin lotions, your shampoo and toothpaste and a wide range of other packaged foods and personal care products. In part, that’s because palm oil is a highly versatile product that lends itself well to food products and processing, and is naturally free of trans fats. That’s good.
It’s also valuable. Palm oil generates tens of billions of dollars in revenue for producing countries, and is estimated to employ more than 6 million people globally. That’s good, too.
|Man harvests oil palm fruit near Malaysia’s Pasoh Forest Reserve. (© Benjamin Drummond)|
So, is it all good news? Definitely not.
|Mature palm oil plantation in Borneo. (© David Gilbert/RAN)|
There are also opportunities to significantly increase productivity on existing palm plantations. Indonesia’s smallholder producers represent approximately 40% of palm oil cultivation, but their yields per hectare are half the Indonesia national average.