What is Palm Oil?

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil which is free of trans fats but high in saturated fats.

Native to West Africa, the oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis) was imported to South East Asia in the middle 19th century.

These trees grow and flourish in hot humid tropics and can produce much product when grown in the right conditions.

The places on earth for these trees to grow with perfect conditions for a high yielding product would be about ten degrees south of the equator.

What is Palm Oil


The palm fruit develops in large dense bunches sometimes to the weight of 22.5 pounds (10 kilograms)

These bunches contain more than a thousand individual small fruits, similar in size to a small plum.

Palm Oil is obtained from the flesh of the palm fruit as well as the palm kernel, the seed of the fruit.

It takes just one tree to produce ongoing fruit for up to thirty years, which is why corporations find palm oil so appealing.

Palm Oil is used in half the products consumers purchase and use on a regular daily basis.

Examples would be prepackaged foods, cleaning products, hair care, cosmetics, soaps and personal care products.

Candles can be manufactured with palm oil made into the wax formation.

You will not find another vegetable oil on this earth which shows up in virtually most consumer goods, creating the environment where consumers are complicit unknowingly contributing to unspeakable crimes against animals, people, and the environment.

According to Palm Oil Consumers Action, most Americans “have never heard of palm oil”  and are now beginning to ask, what is palm oil, and what is all the fuss about.

If you are searching for an alternative to palm oil for cooking look here for what I feel is the best.

There are ways to grow palm oil trees in a sustainable method that does not involve deforestation, animal deaths and abuse as well as and human rights issues.

The group called The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is holding corporations accountable in these matters with great results.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has set rigorous guidelines to help restore and reform the palm oil industry.

In doing so, they have set standards for promoting transparency giving fair labor and strict environmental methods a chance to go forward, and hopefully leaving the horrific ways of the industry behind.

But greed is ugly and some corporations that have joined the Roundtable have yet to actually implement new methods for better practices.

what is palm oil

Here are Ten Companies Committed to Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil:

1. Hershey

Hershey Company, in 2011,  agreed to purchase all of its palm oil from one hundred percent sustainable and traceable sources by 2015.  The company, since then, has made great progress.

2. Earth Balance

For all those who buy Earth Balance thinking it is not butter and free of all animal products had to think again when they found out palm oil was used instead.  Though it is true the faux-butter is free of any animal product, it is still linked to palm oil indicating support to animal cruelty.  Since consumers of Earth Balance made it known this product was no longer suitable for their needs, the company committed to one hundred percent sustainable palm oil. Now, Earth Balance derives its palm oil from sustainable organic farms in Brazil as well as Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified sources in Malaysia.  Earth Balance went one step further, they purchase GreenPalm certificates and actively support Orangutan Foundation International.

3. Marks & Spencers

M&S, Mark & Spencers is the British equivalent to Marshall’s or Target, here in the USA.
By 2015 all of Mark & Spencers products were obtained by the M&S sustainability program created in 2007.

4. Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts announced, in 2013, that is will change its recipes, only to use one hundred percent sustainable sourced palm to fry their donuts.  Now you can eat your donuts and feel good about it, too.

5. Heinz Company

The Heinz Company started converting to a sustainable palm oil back in 2010.
Since Heinz is such a huge company, the global demand for palm oil was reduced by 25 percent, and the companies goal of sourcing 100 percent palm oil was reached in 2013.  That is a big deal!

6. Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson purchased one hundred percent of their palm oil from sustainable sources thanks to Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil back in 2010.

7. Walmart

Walmart launched a Global Sustainable Agriculture campaign back in 2010 to help the majority of small farmers and their businesses.  Walmart also announced their goal to changing its practices of sourcing palm oil and beef, acknowledging these industries as the most environmentally catastrophic and damaging.  Currently, all Walmart brand products must be sourced from sustainable palm plantations.

8. P&G Chemicals

Proctor & Gamble (P&G) manufactures close to every single consumer good you can think of and because of this, they’ve got a huge stake in the palm oil industry.  P&G has offered to help their company with a supplier and partner coaching program on the principals as well as the criteria meeting all Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil standards. P&G  partnered with nonprofit organizations as well as other stakeholders to keep and hold all practices accountable.  Way to go P&G !!

9. Avon Inc.

In 2011 Avon, the makeup company joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
This sets a standard for other makeup companies to follow their lead, as Avon is now committed to only using sustainably sourced palm oil. With the growing awareness of palm oil and its destructive ways, it is quite possible to see all other makeup companies following Avon’s awesome role.

10. ConAgra

Marie Callendars, Orville Redenbacher, and Slim Jim are all American packaged foods by the American packaging food company, ConAgra.  ConAgra had many complaints of shady business practices in the past. With the growing awareness on our planet, with whistleblowers, the internet, and social media, ConAgra has taken the necessary steps to be 100% committed to sourcing only sustainable palm oil. ConAgra has made the statement that palm oil is a healthy alternative to trans fat and in doing so pledged to only source their palm oil by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil standards.

With these examples above it is not too far fetched that other large coporations will be part of our future leaving a healthier and more sustainable planet for our kids and grandchildren.

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6 Replies to “What is Palm Oil?”

  1. Hello, another great post that is filled with so much good stuff. Your readers will really love what you are offering here. Great job on your post

  2. Palm oil seems like it would be great to use for deep frying items. Do you know the smoke point for this oil? I would love to give this oil a try for foods but I want to make sure there is a very low toxicity level. I also never realized that they place this oil in a lot of cosmetics either. I guess it can be pretty moisturizing. Thanks for the information!

    1. If you plan on using palm oil be sure you are purchasing from companies that only buy from Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified sources. The whole point of my article was to bring awareness to the deforestation and the plight of the orangutan. Same with cosmetics. These companies will have an RSPO sticker on their labels. 

  3. I am one of the ones that hadn’t heard of palm oil. I wasn’t aware that it was used in so many things. You did a good job of explaining what it is.

    I’m glad to hear that there is a commission working toward more companies buying sustainable palm oil. I’m also happy to see that Hershey is one of them. My favorite ice cream (an indulgence I allow myself occasionally) is made by Hershey. I’m also glad to see Walmart is on the list because I shop at Walmart for my groceries and personal hygiene supplies.

    Thanks for a well written and informative post.


    1. I glad it brought some awareness to you, Jeannie.  Now you can tell others and those will tell their friends. This is how change happens. Large corporations will only listen and follow the money trail.  

      Thanks for your comment.

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