A brief History of Palm Oil – discovering its Roots and using it today
Palm oil has a long history dating back to ancient times. It is believed that the oil was used for cosmetic purposes by the Egyptians over 5,000 years ago. It was not until the 19th century that palm oil was widely used for commercial purposes.
Modern production of palm oil began in West Africa, particularly in what is now Nigeria and Cameroon. Palm oil was first used for soap making and other household products. In the early 20th century, palm oil production expanded to other parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia, which is now the largest producer of palm oil.
It is a versatile, inexpensive oil, it has a long shelf life, so it is now found in the food industry – in baked goods, snacks and spreads – as well as in household and personal care products.
Palm oil has become a controversial commodity in the modern food and consumer goods industry due to its impact on the environment and human health. It is estimated that over half of all packaged products sold in supermarkets contain palm oil, and it is used in about 50% of all consumer goods.
The manufacturing process often involves large-scale deforestation that leads to habitat destruction, the displacement of indigenous communities and the amplification of climate change. In addition, the high proportion of saturated fatty acids in palm oil has been linked to elevated cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease.
Despite these concerns, demand for palm oil continues to grow. However, it is also an important source of income for many developing countries, including Indonesia and Malaysia.
It is important that companies and consumers make responsible choices and are aware of the impacts of palm oil. The use of sustainable palm oil (explained below ) and alternative oils help to reduce negative impacts of palm oil on the environment and human health.