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General Information

  • The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis jacq.) is a species of palm that originates from West Africa, in particular the area between Angola and Gambia. It is a perennial, tropical tree crop that starts bearing fruits in large bunches, weighing between 5 to 30kg each, after 30 months of field planting.
  • The oil palm fruitlets from the bunches (known as fresh fruit bunches) are unique as each produces two types of edible vegetable oil; palm oil from the mesocarp (flesh of the fruit) and palm kernel oil from the kernel (seed). Both are edible oils but with very different chemical compositions, physical properties and applications.
  • Each fruit bunch will produce 20-25% oil at the mill. For every 10 tonnes of palm oil produced at the mill, 1 tonne of palm kernel oil is produced when the kernel is crushed.
  • The oil palm keeps producing the fruit bunches until the end of its economic lifespan; between 25 to 30 years. This remarkable agronomic characteristic allows the oil palm to provide a consistent and uninterrupted supply of vegetable oils to meet the ever-increasing global demand.

Oil palm fruits can produce 2 types of oils – palm oil from the mesocarp (flesh), and palm kernel oil from the kernel (seed). Palm oil is semi-solid in its natural state, and it can be further separated into liquid (olein) and solid (stearin) forms for different food and non-food applications.

Oil palm is a non-GMO crop. The species that we grow in Malaysia – Elaeis guineensis is a highly productive breed, hence it does not need to be modified genetically to increase its productivity.

Trade and Promotion

Malaysian palm oil and its various derivatives can be sourced from a number of refiners, traders and suppliers in Malaysia. You can find a detailed list of Malaysian palm oil suppliers in the MPOC online directory at Alternatively, feel free to reach out to our regional manager for personalized assistance, as listed on

To access up-to-date export statistics and trends for Malaysian palm oil, visit Stay informed about current issues and the latest industry information by subscribing to our newsletters at

MPOC employs a multifaceted approach to expand exports and elevate global awareness of Malaysian palm oil, involving interactions with industry players through seminars, forums and workshops. Additionally, MPOC expands outreach through exhibitions, business matching, factory visits, and diplomatic G2G missions.

For a detailed list of MPOC's marketing and promotional programs, visit This dedicated platform outlines upcoming events, campaigns, and initiatives designed to effectively market and promote Malaysian palm oil in Malaysia and on the global stage.

The MSPO certification ensures the sustainability and quality of Malaysian palm oil for export through the enforcement of the system called MSPO Trace. This comprehensive solution enables tracking and tracing of MSPO Certification, covering oil palm plantings and the entire supply chain. The MSPO Trace incorporates all certified entities, traceability information, and MSPO claims on certification and commitment. The integrated Traceability Module, in conjunction with the Certification Module, facilitates tracing Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) from plantations throughout the supply chain, incorporating milling, refining, processing, and manufacturing. Tracing works through the combination of the individual profiles of entities, supplier and buyer databases, sales announcements, and transaction records, providing a seamless connection across the entire value chain.

MSPO compliance serves as a pivotal asset for international traders seeking to expand or penetrate the global market. By adhering to good practices set forth by MSPO standards, traders elevate their credibility and trustworthiness. The MSPO certification becomes a powerful branding tool, signifying a commitment to sustainability and responsible palm oil production. This compliance not only aligns with global expectations for ethical business conduct but also opens doors to new markets, allowing international traders to navigate trade regulations and position Malaysian palm oil as a sustainable and reputable choice on the global stage.

Certainly, there are ample opportunities for collaboration in MSPO-certified palm oil trade and promotional activities. International stakeholders can explore collaborative efforts with MPOC, working together to promote the Malaysian palm oil sustainability initiative. Partnership possibilities include joint initiatives to increase the uptake of MSPO-certified palm oil, fostering awareness campaigns, and collectively advocating for sustainable palm oil practices. Collaborative endeavours create a synergy that enhances the industry's global positioning and promotes the shared goals of sustainability and responsible palm oil trade.

Fat Composition of Palm Oil

It is not true that palm oil is full of saturated fat. Palm oil has a balanced fatty acid composition, with 50% saturated fat and 50% unsaturated fat (40% monounsaturated fat and 10% polyunsaturated fat). The monounsaturated fat is mainly oleic acid (omega-9), whereas the saturated fat is mainly palmitic acid.

Palm oil is naturally free from cholesterol, as it is derived from plant. 

As palm oil is naturally semi-solid, it does not require partial hydrogenation for solidification. Therefore, it is free from artificial trans-fat.

No, palm oil is not the only oil containing saturated fat. In fact, all edible oils contain some amount of saturated fat. 

Although palm oil and palm kernel oil are both extracted from palm fruit, they are different in terms of chemical and physical properties. Palm oil contains 50% saturated fat and 50% unsaturated fat, while palm kernel oil contains 80% saturated fat and 20% unsaturated fat. 

The main type of saturated fat in palm oil is palmitic acid, while palm kernel oil is mainly in the form of lauric acid. However, both palm oil and palm kernel oil share the same type of monounsaturated fat, which is oleic acid (omega-9).

Palm oil is different from coconut oil in terms of chemical compositions and physical characteristics. However, palm kernel oil is similar to coconut oil, as they both contain mainly lauric acid.

Ghee and butter are produced from animals (i.e. cow’s milk), while palm-based margarine and Vanaspati are made from palm oil blends. These palm-based products are vegan alternatives to consumers. Moreover, palm-based margarine is also cholesterol and trans-fat free, while ghee and butter contain some levels of cholesterol and trans-fat.

No, palm oil is not the only oil containing saturated fat. In fact, all edible oils contain some amount of saturated fat. 

Palm Oil Nutrition

Palm oil and red palm oil contain a number of phytonutrients, such as vitamin E (both tocopherols and tocotrienols), squalene, coenzyme Q10, phytosterols and many others. On top of that, red palm oil is rich in provitamin A (carotenoids), making it a nutrient-dense vegetable oil. Hence, palm oil contributes more than just calories to our diet, as it plays an important role in fat-soluble vitamin absorption (such as vitamin A, D, E and K).

Indeed, both red palm oil and crude palm oil are red in colour. However, crude palm oil is the crude oil extracted from mesocarp (flesh of palm fruit), which can be further separated into palm olein and palm stearin. While red palm oil, on the other hand, is obtained from crude palm oil that undergoes a special refining method, known as molecular distillation. This process, unlike conventional refining process, retains up to 80% of the phytonutrients, including carotenoids, vitamin E and many others.

The colour of red palm oil is 100% natural. The reddish colour is from carotenoids (especially beta-carotene).

No doubt red palm contains high amount of carotenoids. However, it also contains many other phytonutrients. Among them are vitamin E tocotrienols, coenzyme Q10, squalene and plant sterols. 

Red palm oil can be used in cooking, but it is better to heat it at a lower temperature, such as light stir fry and baking. This is to retain the healthful nutrients.

2 teaspoons (~10mL) of red palm oil a day in our diet, provide sufficient provitamin A to our body to meet our daily vitamin A requirement of 600 µg RE.

Red palm oil contains higher provitamin A carotenoids than carrots and tomatoes (if we compare them using same amount). It has 15 times more Retinol Equivalents (RE) than carrots and 50 times more than tomatoes.

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin and it is a powerful antioxidant. There are 2 types of vitamin E – tocopherols and tocotrienols. The difference between these two vitamin E is the chemical structure of the hydrocarbon tail. 

Crude palm oil contains up to 800mg/kg vitamin E. The distribution of vitamin E in palm oil is 30% tocopherols and 70% tocotrienols. 

Indeed, vitamin E tocotrienols are 40-60 times more powerful than vitamin E tocopherols in terms of antioxidant properties due to the unsaturated tail structure of vitamin E tocotrienols. That is because it can penetrate easily through our tissues that have saturated fatty layers such as the brain and liver (Ahsan et al, 2014). On top of that, palm vitamin E tocotrienols also possess unique neuroprotective, antioxidant, anti-cancer and cholesterol lowering properties to our body, which differ from the properties of tocopherols (Sen et al, 2006).

Vitamin E tocotrienols are scientifically proven to have various health benefits. It is not only 40-60 times higher in antioxidant properties than vitamin E tocopherols, but it also gives many benefits to the whole body.

OPP is a water-soluble component extracted from the aqueous by-products from palm-processing mills, and it is a powerful antioxidant. There are a number of potential health benefits of OPP and hence it can be used in beverage applications (i.e. phenolic drinks) as well as nutritional supplements.

The major component of OPP – caffeoylshikimic acid, has an anti-inflammatory property, and research shows that it has a potential cardioprotective effect.

Palm Oil Applications

It depends on the food application. If oil is used for salad dressing, it does not need to be high in smoke point (i.e. red palm oil). However, if the oil is used for frying or high temperature cooking, smoke point is an important indicator, as it indicates a higher heat stability, and resistant to thermal oxidation. As a result, it does not deteriorate and turn rancid easily.

Palm oil is versatile and can be separated and blended to use in different food applications, such as palm-based fats in baking and confectioneries, cheese analogues, infant formulas and many others.

There are two types of unsaturated fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Oils with high polyunsaturated fat content, such as soybean oil, canola oil and sunflower oil are not suitable for high heat cooking. This is because they are extremely unstable and tend to deteriorate or breakdown easily (i.e. oxidation, hydrolysis and polymerisation). This can result in the production of dangerous chemical compounds, resulting in rancid oil and food products. 

Partially hydrogenated oils with high polyunsaturated fats contain a high amount of artificial trans-fat. Although it is stable, and able to withstand high cooking temperature, the presence of trans-fat is detrimental to our health, especially to cardiovascular health. Hence it is not recommended to use partially hydrogenated oils in frying or any other food applications.

Repeated frying can produce about 3% of trans-fat from the oil, but it is much lower compared to using partially hydrogenated oils that contains 25-40% of trans-fat in the fresh oil (WHO 2018).

Oils are susceptible to high heat, light and oxygen. Overexposure to these factors can change the chemical structure of the fats, hence producing ‘off flavours’ and loss of nutrients. It is better to choose oils with high oxidative stability that can withstand these external factors and retain its freshness. A good example is Malaysian palm oil.

Palm oil is suitable for household use. This is because it is highly stable and does not produce volatile compounds easily. Hence, it is easier to clean kitchen and cooking utensils.

Food fried using palm oil has minimal oil absorption. This is because when food is submerged into hot oil, the oil immediately cooks the surface of food and forms a seal to lock the moisture. Hence, the cooking oil cannot penetrate into the food any further.

It depends on the type of vegetable oil used to produce margarine. If it is made from palm-based solid fats such as palm stearin, it is naturally solid. As such, it does not require hydrogenation to harden it. Hence, palm-based margarine is naturally trans-fat free.

Palm oil and palm kernel oil can be used to produce oleochemicals and its derivatives for non-food application. Examples, the production of personal care products (i.e. shampoo, body shower gel, skin care products, and toothpaste), cosmetics (i.e. lipstick, eyeshadow), biodiesel, and many more.

Palm Oil & Health

Palm oil and olive oil have similar effects on total, HDL and LDL cholesterols in healthy individuals when consumed as part of a balanced and healthy diet. Based on the chart below, many studies showed that palm oil gives similar impacts as olive oil. Both palm oil and olive oil do not negatively affect blood cholesterol in our body.

It is never a single nutrient that contributes to diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The root causes of these diseases are due to overconsumption of macronutrients (such as carbohydrates, protein and fats), lack of exercise, stress and unhealthy lifestyle. These contribute to inflammation and oxidative damage, that lead to chronic diseases.

Does palm oil cause cancer because it contains high palmitic acid?

Palmitic acid can be found in many common foods, including butter, other types of cooking oil. Even breast milk consists of 20 - 25% of palmitic acid (Carta et al, 2017). Hence, palm oil does not cause cancer nor increase the spread of cancer. 

 All refined vegetable oil contains some amount of 3-MCPD and GE. 3-MCPD and GE are process contaminants formed during high-temperature refining processes. However, the level of contaminants are very low and they are within the safety range according to EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).

As the level of contaminants in palm oil is within the safety range, having a recommended serving size of biscuits (i.e. 3-4 pieces per day) will not increase the risk of getting cancer. This is because the amount of contaminants in the recommended serving size of biscuits is very minimal. 

3-4 biscuits contains = 20 - 45 µg 3-MCPD

Upper limit level 3-MCPD for 60 year old adult per day = 120 - 240 µg

Palm oil is suitable for household use. This is because it is highly stable and does not produce volatile compounds easily. Hence, it is easier to clean kitchen and cooking utensils.


Oil palm is the world’s most efficient vegetable oil crop. It produces 35% of the world’s vegetable oil on about 10% of the land allocated for oil crops; or 0.4% of land for agricultural use. Replacing palm oil with other oils would mean more deforestation as it would require 5 to 9 times more land.

Based on this fact, the IUCN Palm Oil Taskforce and many other conservation organisations including WWF and Greenpeace do not recommend boycotting palm oil, or even supporting ‘No Palm Oil’ labels, but instead are calling for support towards sustainable palm oil.

Palm oil is the first vegetable oil to be certified sustainable. There are now various certification schemes either voluntary (e.g. RSPO or the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) or national schemes (e.g. MSPO or the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil).

The MSPO certification scheme was introduced by the government in 2015 and made mandatory for all Malaysian palm oil producers in 2020. The MSPO ensures the sustainable production of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) meets the sustainable requirements of the global market which includes aspects of Legality, Governance, Social and Environment and in line with the 5Ps of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - People, Planet, Peace, Prosperity and Partnership.

MSPO certification significantly contributes to sustainable palm oil production by setting rigorous standards encompassing environmental conservation, social responsibility, and economic viability. It assures consumers that Malaysian palm oil adheres to ethical practices, promoting a balanced and eco-friendly approach within the industry.