Palm oil remains the most popular choice for household and industrial applications

SC Chin & Research writer

Modified 24 Jun 2020, 8:02 am

Have you ever wondered why we need cooking oil in the kitchen? For just pan-frying, stir-frying or deep-frying? What about sautéing, roasting, searing, baking, grilling or broiling? Well, other cooking methods that require cooking oil include smoking, steaming, poaching, simmering, braising, stewing and boiling. You may also use it for flavouring, dipping, dressing, marinating or seasoning. Cooking oil is essentially the basis for many favourite recipes.

Of the 10 oilseeds, 17 oils & fats and 12 oilmeals traded globally, palm oil leads by a commanding 35% market share, according to the OECD‑FAO Agricultural Outlook 2018‑2027 report. An analysis of the competitive landscape of the global vegetable oils market is published here while different vegetable oils are listed here.

Put it simply, palm oil remains the most popular cooking oil for household food preparation and frying fat for food manufacturing due to its unique functionality and versatility. The oil is produced from oil palm grown in tropical nations, which boasts the highest yield among all commercial crops. The very competitive nature of palm oil is also driven by its lower production cost while being abundantly available, hence benefiting both the manufacturers and consumers.

For food applications, palm oil’s positive health associations are supported by over 200 publications in high impact peer reviewed journals, including the one published in the European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology.

The trans fat-free palm oil with a balanced composition of generally 50% saturated and 50% unsaturated fatty acids is rich in vitamin A (15 and 30 times higher than that of carrots and tomatoes respectively). Vitamin E tocotrienols from palm oil are natural antioxidants that help prevent chronic diseases and may support brain health. Red palm oil, for instance, has also been proven to help reduce the low-density lipoprotein (bad LDL cholesterol) in the blood.

When it comes to frying, deep-frying or baking, palm oil can sustain high temperatures up to 235°C without breaking down (stable at high temperatures). Given the deep-frying temperatures are generally in the range of 170–190°C, this makes palm oil very heat tolerant and resistant to oxidation as compared to high-polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Palm oil’s oxidative resistance helps prolong its shelf life, in other words.

Other health benefits of palm oil are summarised here.

Take a close look at the cooking oil section of any grocery store, chances are high you would see some of the following brands of palm oil: Yee Lee (Red Eagle, Helang, Vesawit), Lam Soon (Buruh, Knife), Sime Darby (Bagus, Alif), FGV (Saji, Tiara, Tiga Udang), FFM (Seri Murni, Neptune), Tesco (Tesco Cooking Oil), AEON (Topvalu Cooking Oil) and Podirect Trading (Pertma).

If you are looking for red palm oil specifically, say hello to Carotino, Merris and Harvist, among others.

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