I Love Malaysian Palm Oil


The oil palm is a tree crop that produces palm oil, an important commodity which performs many tasks in the consumer products and makes our lives better. Palm oil along with its derivatives, has been widely used in various food and non-food applications worldwide; including as a renewable fuel. Yet, only a few know how this commodity became globally significant and synonymous with Malaysia.

Below is a brief story about Malaysian Palm Oil and its amazing contribution to Malaysia and the world. At the end, you may join the online contest and stand a chance to win awesome IT products.

This contest starts from 8 January  31 December 2019.


The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is a single stemmed palm tree of the palmae family. Originating from West Africa, it is commercially grown in Southeast Asia and some other parts of the world for its highly-prized commodity  – palm oil.


Some Characteristics of the oil palm :

    • Perennial. The oil palm has a long lifespan and is usually replanted after 20 – 25 years when it is no longer economically viable.
    • It is a tree. The oil palm is capable of growing up to 20 meters in height and provides a green canopy underneath its huge fronds.
    • Monoecious. The oil palm produces both male and female flowers on a single tree. This makes pollination easier.
    • Fruiting all year long. Once mature, the oil palm will bear fruitlets in bunches and continue producing all year long until it is replanted.
    • Highly productive. A mature oil palm tree is harvested once in 2 – 3 weeks and is capable of producing 10 – 15 fresh fruit bunches (FFBs)
      per year; each weighs between 10 – 20 kg and consists of 1,000 – 3,000 fruitlets.
    • Efficient. Unlike other oil crops, the oil palm produces two types of vegetable oil from a single fruitlet; palm oil from the mesocarp (flesh) and palm kernel oil from the seed (kernel).

Today, the oil palm is synonymous with Malaysia. With a small population of about 32 million people, Malaysia is one of the biggest growers of the oil palm and a leading producer of certified sustainable palm oil in the world. Malaysia is also one of the elite few, which are self-sufficient in oils & fats. This enables Malaysia to export excess of its palm oil to fulfil global demand; while generating income for its coffers and people.

Key Facts  about Malaysia’s oil palm:

    • 8 to 10 times more productive than other major oil seed crops.
    • Capable of producing up to 18.5 tonnes of vegetable oil per hectare annually.
    • A huge “carbon sink” that continuously cleans up carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere; thus helps mitigate global warming.
    • Highly versatile in uses including its waste, which can be converted to clean energy.
    • Sustainably and responsibly managed; posing minimal impact to the environment, biodiversity and wildlife.
    • Provides affordable, high quality and nutritious food to more than three billion people worldwide.

The Beginning

The oil palm is indigenous to West Africa. It was introduced to Malaya (now Peninsular Malaysia) in the 1870s as an ornamental plant. At that time, little was known about its edible fruitlets and oil.

In 1905, Henri Fauconnier, a Frenchman, travelled to Malaya to make a fortune. He began his trade by acquiring a few plantation estates to plant coffee and rubber. When the prices of coffee and rubber started to depreciate, Fauconnier began experimenting with the oil palm as an alternative crop.

Convinced that the crop was indeed viable, Fauconnier planted the oil palm for its oil at his Tennamaram Estate in 1917; becoming the first person to commercialize the crop in the country and effectively laying the foundation for the birth of the Malaysian palm oil industry.


After Independence in 1957, the Malaya Government tasked the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) to tackle rural poverty. The poor were recruited as settlers in FELDA’s rural land development schemes by planting mainly rubber. However, progress was slow.

The breakthrough came when the oil palm was introduced at FELDA Taib Andak scheme in 1961. With its higher productivity and shorter maturity period, the oil palm quickly replaced rubber and became FELDA’s main crop by 1967. By 1990, a total of 112,635 rural poor, of whom 80% were dependent on the oil palm, had found permanent employment in the FELDA schemes across the country.

Today, there are about 650,000 small farmers in Malaysia who rely on the oil palm for a living. They account for 40% of oil palm’s planted area in the country and have played a critical role in the development of rural areas and communities.

650,000 small farmers in Malaysia rely on the oil palm for a living.


The sustainable income from the oil palm business has enabled these smallholders to improve their standard of living. The oil palm has provided an opportunity for them to escape the poverty trap.


Research has been an integral part of Malaysia’s oil palm industry from the beginning.  In the 1920s, priorities were given to palm breeding and this was expanded to genetics and crop physiology following the establishment of the Oil Palm Genetics Laboratory consortium in 1962.
The research work was further intensified when the government established the Malaysian Agricultural Research & Development Institute (MARDI), Universiti Putra Malaysia, the Palm Oil Registration & Licensing Authority (PORLA), and the Palm Oil Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia (PORIM). At the same time, the private plantations continued to develop their research facilities.

 Efforts in the R&D have led to the introduction of Tenera, a cross of Dura and Pisifera species, as a preferred planting material in oil palm plantations today.  Tenera palm is chosen because it is capable of providing up to 30% more vegetable oil compared to Dura palm.


Another remarkable achievement is development of palm oil’s downstream products for use in the food industry. As palm oil is naturally semi-solid, it can be physically fractionated into liquid portion and solid portion of different solid fat contents and melting points. The liquid portion (olein) can be further fractionated to give more downstream products.

Hence, fractionation gives palm oil versatility for use in almost any food applications; from cooking oil to frying fats, shortening, margarine, specialty fats, confectionery fats and others.  Also, foods made from mainly palm oil enjoy extended shelf life while maintaining their natural tastes.

Thanks to its versatility and competitive prices, palm oil now is a preferred vegetable oil among food manufacturers around the world.


In recognition of its achievements, Malaysia today is known as the global center on oil palm research.



In the 1980s, the palm oil industry came under attack when a smear campaign was initiated; linking tropical oils to increased risk of heart diseases. This caused food manufacturers to reformulate their products by replacing tropical oils including palm oil with hydrogenated vegetable oils.

The Malaysian government and PORIM intensified research to investigate the association between palm oil and heart diseases. Their studies have concluded that palm oil is nutritious and exhibits several health attributes. This was supported by other studies carried out by foreign researchers, which concluded that there is no significant evidence to link intake of dietary saturated fats with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) or cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Palm oil is cholesterol-free. It is readily digested, absorbed and utilized as a source of energy in the body. It contains equal amounts of saturated and unsaturated fats and is the only vegetable oil that has a balanced fatty acid composition.

Palm oil is also one of nature’s richest sources of anti-oxidant Pro-Vitamin A carotenoids and Vitamin E. Ongoing research has shown that Vitamin E tocotrienols, which is particularly abundant in palm oil, is more potent than its sibling, Vitamin E tocopherols, as an anti-oxidant. Tocotrienols have been shown by research to exhibit, among others, the following properties:

    • Stroke prevention and protection
    • Cholesterol-lowering effect
    • Anti-carcinogenic
    • Management of fatty liver, and
    • Anti-ageing

Palm oil is one of Nature’s richest sources of Vitamin E tocotrienols

Moreover, palm oil is trans fat-free. New research has shown that trans fat is more harmful to health than saturated fats.

Presently, palm oil is touted as a suitable replacement for hydrogenated vegetable oils; while being recognized by the WHO/FAO as wholesome, nutritious and suitable for human consumption.



Palm oil and palm kernel oil are important raw materials for non-food applications particularly the production of oleochemicals. Oleochemicals are renewable and environment-friendly chemicals derived from oils of plant, animal or marine origins and are direct substitutes to petrochemicals. They are used extensively in a wide range of household and industrial products such as personal care, cosmetics, soaps, detergents, surfactants, inks & coatings, etc.


Thanks to its uninterrupted supply of palm oil and palm kernel oil, Malaysia started to develop its oleochemical industry in the 1980s by producing basic oleochemicals such as fatty acids, fatty alcohols, methyl esters and glycerin. With new technologies and increased global demand over the years, it started to produce oleo-derivatives and consumer or industrial end-products.

Today, Malaysia is a world leader in the oleochemical industry. With 19 active oleochemical plants capable of producing up to 2.67 mil tonnes of oleochemicals annually, Malaysia accounts for at least 20% of global production.

Leader in Sustainability

Palm oil is the world’s leading vegetable oil and each year millions of tonnes of this commodity are traded. Naturally, this leads to a steady expansion of oil palm areas and concerns on its sustainability and impact on the environment.

In 2004, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established to draw the principles & criteria for the production of sustainable palm oil. Nine months after the full implementation of the RSPO certification scheme, Malaysia became the world’s first to produce and export certified sustainable palm oil when one of its palm oil companies received the inaugural RSPO certification in August 2008.

While the RSPO scheme is important, most small farmers found it very challenging and costly to subscribe to. In addressing this issue, the Malaysian Government introduced the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme in 2015; providing an opportunity for all groups of its oil palm growers to participate in an alternative certification scheme that provides assurance of sustainability and traceability.

By end of 2018, 575 estates and 87 clusters belonging to big plantation companies and independent small farmers; respectively,  as well as 131 palm oil mills have received the MSPO certification; covering 24.5% of Malaysia’s total oil palm planted area and 7,140 tonnes of FFBs per hour milling capacity.

In addition, Malaysia is also committed to keeping its 1992 Rio Earth Summit pledge to maintain at least 50% of its total land area under permanent forest cover at all times. This promise is still intact today.

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Contact Us

Malaysian Palm Oil Council

2nd Floor, Wisma Sawit
Lot 6, SS6, Jalan Perbandaran
47301 Kelana Jaya
Selangor Darul Ehsan

Tel : +6(03) – 7806 4097
Fax : +6(03) – 7806 2272
E-Mail : info@lovemypalmoil.com.my

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