Crude Palm Oil


Crude Palm Oil (CPO):

A Comprehensive Overview and a Versatile Powerhouse


Crude Palm Oil, or CPO, extracted from palm fruit pulp. It is a versatile oil with a distinctive red color due to its high Vitamin A content. Unlike kernel oil or coconut oil, it’s blended for a saturated vegetable fat. It is widely used in cooking across Southeast Asia, West Africa, and Brazil.


Beyond culinary use, CPO and its derivatives, known as fractions. They play key roles in various industries—pre-packaged foods, cosmetics, cleaning products, and even biofuels. Palm wax, a derivative, is used in candle manufacturing. The versatility extends to biofuel production for vehicles, shipping, and aircraft fuel. It also with glycerin as a noteworthy by-product.


The composition of CPO involves fatty acids esterified with glycerol. It is prominently featuring the 16-carbon saturated fatty acid, palmitic acid, and monounsaturated oleic acid. Unrefined palm oil is rich in Tocotrienol, a vitamin E family member. Red palm oil, with carotenes like αlpha–carotene and ßeta–carotene, exhibits a dark red color. The refining process, yielding “RBD palm oil,” removes carotenes.


Palm oil’s reddish color comes from its high ßeta–carotene content. It is distinguishing it from palm kernel oil. Palm mesocarp oil has 49% saturated, while palm kernel. While coconut oil have higher levels at 81% and 86% saturated fats. Crude red palm oil, after refining, loses carotene content. Many industrial uses involve “modified palm oil,” reaching saturation levels up to 90%, without hydrogenation.


Highly saturated and semisolid at room temperature, palm oil is a common cooking ingredient in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Brazil. Its global use in processed foods contributes to stability and texture. Thanks to its lower cost and high oxidative stability.


Crude Palm Oil
Process of Palm Oil


The composition of Crude Palm Oil, like other fats, involves fatty acids esterified with glycerol. It stands out with its high concentration of saturated fat, specifically the 16carbon saturated fatty acid, palmitic acid. Monounsaturated oleic acid is also a significant constituent. Unrefined or unbleached palm oil serves as a notable source of Tocotrienol, a member of the vitamin E family. Red palm oil, with its rich content of carotenes such as αlpha–carotene, ßeta–carotene. It is also rich in Lycopene, exhibits a characteristic dark red color. However, the refining process, resulting in “RBD palm oil,” removes carotenes.


The naturally reddish color of palm oil is attributed to its high ßeta–carotene content, distinguishing it from palm kernel oil. It is derived from the kernel of the same fruit or coconut oil. While palm mesocarp oil is 49% saturated, palm kernel oil and coconut oil have significantly higher levels at 81% and 86% saturated fats, respectively. Crude red palm oil, after undergoing the refining process into RBD palm oil, loses its carotene content. Many industrial food applications of palm oil involve the use of fractionated components. It often labeled as “modified palm oil,” with saturation levels reaching up to 90%. These “modified” palm oils can become highly saturated but are not necessarily hydrogenated.


Palm oil, being highly saturated and semisolid at room temperature. It is a common cooking ingredient in the tropical belt of Africa, Southeast Asia, and parts of Brazil. Its widespread use in the commercial food industry globally is attributed to its lower cost. Also, to the high oxidative stability (saturation) of the refined product when used for frying. Processed foods frequently contain palm oil or various ingredients derived from it. It is contributing to stability and texture.


Crude Palm Oil


Red Palm Oil:


Red Palm Oil, cold-pressed from the fruit of the oil palm, has gained popularity since the mid-1990s. It is bottled for use as a cooking oil and finds applications in products like mayonnaise and vegetable oil. Red Palm Oil contains around 50% saturated fat, considerably less than palm kernel oil. It also comprises 40% unsaturated fat and 10% polyunsaturated fat. In its unprocessed state, red palm oil exhibits an intense deep red color due to its abundant carotene content. Similar to palm kernel oil, red palm oil contains around 50% medium-chain fatty acids, along with essential nutrients such as carotenoids, sterols, and Vitamin E.


Red Palm Oil: Nutrient-Rich Sensation



Food Industry Dynamics: A Shifting Landscape



Biomass and Biofuels: Environmental Crossroads



Sustainability Imperative: A Call to Action



Use in Food: 


Palm oil’s high saturation makes it solid at room temperature, a cost-effective alternative to butter or hydrogenated oils in baking. Concerns over trans fats in hydrogenated oils drive the rising use of palm oil in the food industry. Its applications extend to animal feed, with revelations in 2017 about its presence in milk substitutes for calves, contributing to cost-effective nutrition. These substitutes comprise 30% milk powder, with the rest being raw protein from skimmed milk powder, whey powder, and primarily coconut oil and palm oil.


Crude Palm Oil


Biomass and Biofuels:


Palm oil plays a significant role in the production of biofuels. It is used to produce both methyl ester and hydrodeoxygenated biodiesel through transesterification. Palm oil biodiesel is often blended with other fuels to create biodiesel blends that meet European standards. Hydrodeoxygenated biodiesel is produced by direct hydrogenolysis of the fat into alkanes and propane. Alkanes, with the general chemical formula CnH2n+2, and propane, a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula C3H8, are key components.


A significant portion of palm oil exports to Europe is converted to biodiesel. In 2014, almost half of all palm oil in Europe was utilized as car and truck fuel. As of 2018, half of Europe’s palm oil imports were directed towards biodiesel production. However, the use of palm oil as biodiesel raises environmental concerns, as it generates three times the carbon emissions of using fossil fuel. Biodiesel made from Indonesian palm oil has been criticized for exacerbating the global carbon problem.


The organic waste matter generated during the processing of oil palm, including oil palm shells and fruit bunches, can be harnessed for energy production. This waste material can be converted into pellets for use as biofuel. Additionally, palm oil that has been used for frying foods can be converted into methyl esters for biodiesel. The used cooking oil undergoes chemical treatment to create a biodiesel similar to petroleum diesel.



Crude Palm Oil


In conclusion, Crude Palm Oil is a multifaceted commodity with applications ranging from cooking to biofuel production. Despite its versatility and affordability, concerns regarding its impact on health and the environment persist. Sustainable practices and alternative solutions in the palm oil industry are crucial for mitigating these concerns and ensuring a responsible and eco-friendly approach to its production and utilization.


Standard Specification of Crude Palm Oil (CPO):


Standard Specification of Crude Palm Oil (CPO)