Palm oil, the most widely used edible oil in the world, is used in hundreds of food products, including margarine, chocolate and oven chips. Food use currently accounts for an estimated 80% of total demand, although demand for palm oil as a low-cost feedstock for the biodiesel sector is growing fast.
- Supply limited by lack of land availability in traditional growing countries (Malaysia and Indonesia)
- International palm oil majors currently entering or expanding in West Africa
- Ivory Coast is the second largest West African palm oil producer (after Benin) and West Africa’s only net exporter
The two main oil palm producing countries are Malaysia and Indonesia. Indonesia is responsible for 45% of world production; Malaysia is the second largest producer, responsible for close to 40% of the global production. The scarcity of available land in both countries is expected to limit expansion potential. Other countries are embarking on large-scale oil production, mainly West Africa, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, India and Cambodia.
Leaders in the global palm industry have recognised the potential of West Africa as an oil palm production region including Wilmar and Sime Darby. One of the first investments was made in Ivory Coast.
Food: Palm oil is the world’s preferred edible oil by volume and is used as a healthy substitute for partially hydrogenated oils, in baking and frying, and as an ingredient in numerous food types, including biscuits, breads, cereals, chips, chocolate, ice-cream, soup and sauces.
Health: Palm oil has numerous benefits in the health and cosmetics sectors. Major uses range from skin care products and moisturisers to soaps, shampoos and detergents. Palm oil is naturally rich in carotenoids, which play an important role in vision, bone growth and reproduction, and as antioxidants protect cells and tissues from the effects of free radicals
Energy: Palm oil is an important feedstock used to produce biodiesel. It has a higher yield per acre than other feedstocks – double that of coconut, five times that of rapeseed and 12 times that of soybean. Palm oil has the lowest per unit production costs of all vegetable oils and the extraction process is robust and simple.