Palm oil is obtained from the palm fruit, growing in bunches in palm trees in the tropical climate (5° north and south of the equator). Palm oil is extracted from the flesh of the fruit and Palm kernel oil from the kernel inside the fruit.
The main producing countries are located in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea), Latin America (Guatemala, Colombia, and Honduras), and in Africa (production for their home markets).
Refined, blended or fractionated
Although palm and palm kernel oil come from the same fruit, they consist of different fatty acid compositions. They can be used individually, combined, and even in blends with other oils. A fractionation process provides the possibility of further specialised fractions.
Stearin and Olein
The fractionation process completely melts the oils and subsequently cools them down again by defined cooling cycles. In the cooling process, fat crystals appear. The physical filtration process separates the solid molecules (Stearin) from the liquid part (Olein) without using chemicals.
Fractionation can, theoretically, produce an unlimited variation of oleins and stearins in both palm oil and palm kernel oil.
Palm oil mainly consists of medium and long strains of fatty acids with a balance of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Palmitic (C 16:0) is the most predominant fatty acid at 43%. Palm kernel oil consists (just as coconut oil) of medium short chains of saturated fatty acids. Lauric acid is the most predominant fatty acid at 47%.
The difference between palm kernel oil and the comparable coconut oil, both Lauric oils (C 12:0), is the higher amount of longer unsaturated fatty acids. Palm kernel oil contains a higher count of longer unsaturated fatty acids and therefore it has a higher melting point versus coconut oil.
Palm and palm kernel oil both remain solid at room temperature. These fats can be used as refined oils or in specialised blends, suited for a wide variety of applications. The oxidative stability and specific melting behaviour contribute to excellent consumption properties.
Go to our applications section to learn more.