Palm oil

palm olie

Palm oil is produced from the fruit of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). Humans have used it in their diet for more than a thousand years. The oil palm, which was originally native to Africa, is now grown in almost all the tropical regions of the world. The main plantation areas are in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The oil palm is a highly versatile plant. It takes between three and five years for a tree to reach its full commercial potential. After four to six years the yield stabilises, and not until the tree is about twenty years old does productivity slowly decline. The old palms are then replaced by new ones. An adult oil palm produces clusters of fruit weighing more than 20 kg about 15 times a year; the fruit grow in large, dense infructescences or bunches. On account of its high yield, which averages 3.69 tonnes per hectare, as well as other characteristics that make it of interest to industry, the oil palm is now the most successful and by far the most productive of all oil plants. Furthermore, the oil palm is robust and generally free of pests and diseases.

Valuable oils are obtained from both the flesh and the kernel of the oil palm fruit: palm oil from the fruit flesh and solid palm kernel oil from the seed of the fruit.

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