Why Does Everyone Like Palm Oil So Much?

The African oil palm is capable of producing 2.4-4000 lbs/acre of palm oil. One tree capable of producing up to 1500 fruits and can produce fruit for 25-30 years. Oil palms produce more palm oil per acre than any other vegetable oil plant, and is therefore able to be harvested sustainably (Nellemann, C. 2007). The Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is trying to contact companies to switch to sustainable palm oil sources, instead of plantations that produce crude palm oil (RSPO. 2007). Crude palm oil comes from plantations that continually use new land to plant oil palm trees (King, T. 2011). Many companies have made the switch, but many have not. In order to be certified by the RSPO, companies have to meet a list of criteria. Some criterion includes providing benefits to workers, using the same land to plant trees and harvest crops, using environmentally friendly pest controls, and not overusing the amount of groundwater (RSPO. 2007).

Because it’s cheap and contains no trans fat, palm oil is increasingly used in many grocery items. The items that use palm oil include baked goods, cereal, juices, pet foods, laundry detergent, and make up. Some brands that use sustainable palm oil are Kellogg, Pepsi Co. McDonalds, Walmart Store Inc., Loreal, All, and Friskies cat food (Palm Oil Shopping Guide. 2012). Palm oil is listed as different names in the ingredients section, such as vegetable oil, palm kernel, palm oil kernel, palmitate, and palmate (King, T. 2011).

Because palm oil is essential to the economy of Indonesia and Malaysia, banning palm oil all together is not the answer to preserving orangutan habitats. Buying products with sustainable palm oil, or none, is the answer. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has produced a shopping list, which is continually updated, for the consumer to take to the grocery store (Palm Oil Shopping Guide. 2012).


  • King, T. (2011). Palm Oil. Say No to Palm Oil. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/palm-oil.php
  • Nellemann, C., Miles, L., Kaltenborn, B. P., Virtue, M., and Ahlenius, H. (Eds). (2007). The last stand of the orangutan – State of emergency: Illegal logging, fire and palm oil in Indonesia’s national parks. United Nations Environment. Programme, GRID-Arendal, Norway,      Retrieved 11 March, 2012 from http://www.grida.no/files/publications/orangutan-full.pdf.
  • Palm Oil Shopping Guide: Current Better Choices. (2012). Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from cmzoo.org/docs/palmOilShoppingGuide.pdf

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