Why palm oil’s widespread prevalence in Asian food industry makes it irreplaceable for now

Despite its poor reputation in the west​ due to sustainability concerns, palm oil is one of the most common food products used in the APAC F&B industry, penetrating almost every possible sector from bakery to snacks to beverages.

According to edible oils brand Mewah, at present the use of palm oil is extremely widespread both geographically and in terms of applications, so much so that completely replacing it at this juncture would be a near-impossible attempt.

“Palm oil is currently consumed by over three billion people in some 150 countries [and] virtually every sector within the Asian food industry is using some fraction of palm oil to make their products,”​ Mewah R&D Solutions R&D Leader Dr Prakash Adhikari told the floor in his Palm Oil Functionality and Versatility in Finished Food ​Products webinar organized by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC).

“One of the reasons palm oil is so widely used is due to its composition of 50% saturated and 50% unsaturated fat, which is unique to palm oil and provides it with unique properties allowing it extremely high versatility to be used in many different types of products, which other oils like sunflower or soybean cannot do.

“This composition gives palm oil properties such as high oxidation stability, and also reduces the need for extra processing which would induce trans fats content, making it trans fat free.

“Importantly, it also allows for a wide variety of modifications to be made to palm oil – such as fractionation, as this yields many different palm oil product types that can be used for different applications, e.g. certain fractions are used to make chocolate, others in bakery, others in cooking and frying and so on.”

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