What drives the palm oil market?
Ironically, the natural trend is driving the successs of the palm oil market and consequently, deforestation of our rainforests. This movement encourages the use of natural materials over those derived from petroleum.
The desire to reduce greenhouse gases and effect the rate of global warming is what has increased the popularity of natural brands in personal care and cosmetics. Purchasing products made with naturally sourced materials is perceived as responsible and better for the environment. The fact that more oil can be obtained from a single palm plant as opposed to other oil crops like soybean, olive, rapeseed, etc. allows for proliferation of the idea that palm oil is more efficient and again better for the environment. Price and availability further encourage the use of palm oil over other vegetable oils. In food, the inexpensive oil is attractive to developing economies and in the US, the current trend is to move away from trans fats.
What about supply?
Palm oil accounts for 5-6% of GDP for Malaysia and 7% for Indonesia. These governments encourage palm production through loan programs, minimal environmental oversight and development of new markets like biodiesel. The more popular palm oil becomes the more difficult it is to secure competing oils.
What can be done?
Look for our seal on your personal care, cosmetics and food products. Consciously purchasing to avoid deforestation even on a portion of what you buy every day, will make an impact.