The most widely used vegetable oil in the world

Palm oil is everywhere

It's the world’s most popular vegetable oil for a reason

Palm oil is sometimes called “the world’s flex crop” because it's a deeply versatile, high-performance ingredient. That versatility and high performance is why it's found in nearly 50% of products on supermarket shelves. It’s in our food, shampoo, and often in the fuel that powers our cars.

Palm oil is the reason that chocolate melts in your mouth (not in your hands!); it’s why soaps and detergents can remove those tough stains; and it’s why your peanut butter spreads just right on that slice of toast.

Palm oil and daily life

Daily life bathing

Many shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and toothpastes contain palm oil-derived surfactants, which help the products foam and clean.

Daily life cleaning

Household cleaning products often contain palm oil-based surfactants, which make them so good at cleaning!

Daily life washing up

Dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent can contain some form of palm oil.

Daily life breakfast

Cereal, breakfast bars, donuts, and oatmeal will often contain palm oil.

Daily life lunch

Whether it’s chips or a side of fries, or even a salad, palm oil is often on the lunch menu.

Daily life dinner

Many sauces and rolls are made with ingredients that contain palm oil. Frozen meals contain palm oil as well.

Daily life dessert and snack

Candy bars, crackers, cookies, and ice cream are a few of the snack foods and desserts frequently made with palm oil.

Daily life pet care

Palm oil derivatives can be found in many pet care products.

Palm oil is useful and functional, but has a negative reputation for good reason

Palm oil plantation expansion has drastic environmental and societal costs

Globally, it is estimated that illegal conversion of tropical forests for the purposes of commercial agriculture produces 1.5 billion tons of carbon each year.

Rainforests from Costa Rica to Indonesia have been — and continue to be — slashed and burned, clearing the way for oil palm plantations. For over a decade, bad actors in the palm oil industry have been found to illegally burn carbon-rich tropical rainforests and peatland in order to clear the land for oil palm plantations.

This deforestation releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, destroying habitats and polluting air and water streams. It's threatening the livelihoods of biodiverse ecosystems, of endangered wildlife, and of humans, too.

It’s challenging to know when palm oil is sustainable or comes from deforested land

The supply chain is very long and opaque

There is a certification body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which certifies “sustainable” palm oil. One major RSPO criteria is that “no primary forests or areas which contain significant concentrations of biodiversity (e.g. endangered species) or fragile ecosystems, or areas which are fundamental to meeting basic or traditional cultural needs of local communities (high conservation value areas), can be cleared.”

However, RSPO-certified palm oil is often mixed together with conventional palm oil. This makes it challenging for brands – and even more so for consumers—to feel confident that their palm oil was “sustainably” sourced.

We need more sustainable ways to make vegetable oils without destroying the planet.

Demand for vegetable oils will only continue to rise

As the world population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, we will need more sustainable vegetable oils to feed our growing planet.