What is palm oil?
- Palm oil is a form of edible vegetable oil obtained from the fruit of the African oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis).
- African oil palms originated in West Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. The majority of all palm oil is grown and produced in Borneo and Sumatra, although this crop is expanding into Africa and South America.
- Plantations growing palm oil are NOT part of the rainforest. Palm oil is an introduced agricultural crop.
- Palm oil is the most widely produced edible oil.
- You probably eat and use palm oil every day. It is found in many foods, cosmetics and bath products. When you look for it on product labels it is also called palm kernel oil and its derivatives, palmitate and palmitic acid. Actually, there are more than 50 names for palm oil that may be used on product labels.
- Demand for palm oil is rapidly increasing because of trans-fat health concerns and bio-fuel development.
Supply and demand pressures are driving the production of palm oil up to an all-time high. Found in cookies, crackers, frozen dinners, shampoo, lotions, cosmetics, pet food, and many other products, palm oil is now the most widely produced edible oil. When done sustainably, palm oil is our best option for an edible vegetable oil, requiring less land, pesticides and fertilizers than other oil alternatives. When done unsustainably, millions of acres of rainforest in Borneo & Sumatra are cut down each year to plant more oil palm.
The increased demand for non-sustainable palm oil is fueling destruction of the rainforest where Sumatran, Bornean and Tapanuli orangutans live. If something isn’t done soon to stop the spread of non-sustainable palm oil plantations, orangutans and many other endangered species will be in peril. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has created solutions to ensure that the palm oil you consume is sustainable. Learn more below about how you can support orangutans and palm oil by using companies committed to sustainable palm oil that is deforestation-free.
Why not boycott?
- Oil palms are the most productive type of all the edible oil crops. Oil palms produce 4-10 times more oil per acre than other crops like soy or canola. In this way, palm oil can be a more environmentally friendly oil, because less land is needed to produce the same amount of oil.
- Indonesia and Malaysia are countries that struggle with poverty and palm oil is a huge part of the economy. Without it, millions of additional people would be unemployed.
- There will always be a demand for edible oil, and demand is growing due to worldwide population growth. Palm oil is in many of the items we eat and use every day. If we boycott palm oil, another crop will take its place.
- If grown the right way – sustainably – palm oil can be the best choice for vegetable oil. It does not seem effective or realistic to boycott.
- Palm oil and its derivatives have more than 50 different names on product labels. This makes it difficult for consumers to know if products contain palm oil.