Palm oil is the most widely-used vegetable oil in the world. Palm fruit oil, generally known as palm oil, is produced from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis Guineensis). This tropical fruit is reddish in colour because of a high beta-carotene content. The fruit is about the size of a large olive. The fruit has a single seed or kernel, which is used to produce palm kernel oil. Each palm fruit contains about 30-35 per cent oil. Palm fruit oil and palm kernel oil differ significantly in their fatty acid composition, but have the same botanical origin.
The oil palm tree grows in regions around the equator. It is a tropical tree with leaves about 5 metres long. Originally found in West africa, the oil palm tree is now mostly cultivated in Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s largest palm oil-producing nations.
Nature plays a big part in the palm oil story. What the tree loves above all, is sun and humidity. It thrives on plenty of sunshine, temperatures ranging between 24 and 32 degrees centigrade and rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year. Therefore, the most suitable areas for cultivation are located between ten degrees north and south from the equator. Apart from Indonesia and Malaysia there is an increase in palm oil production in other parts of the world including South and Central America, Thailand and Western Africa.