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Palm Oil Derivatives (PODS)

alternate names for palm oil
Palm Oil Milling Process
alternate names for palm oil
alternate names for palm oil
alternate names for palm oil

60% of the palm oil and palm kernel oil consumed globally is in the form of derivatives. Like most oils, palm oil is seldom used in its crude form. The reddish oil is first refined and physically separated into different components known as fractions. Using chemical reactions, it may then be broken down further to produce compounds called oleochemicals.

Oleochemicals produced from palm oil fatty acid distillates are typically used in the production of cosmetics, some food products, cleaning products, personal care products, chemical and industrial products, medicines and many other products you wouldn’t even think would contain a palm oil derivative.

In the past decade, many manufacturers and traders have shifted towards palm-derived oleochemicals and away from petrochemicals due to the increase in access to palm feedstocks. The environmental and social repercussions of this shift in usage, paralleled with the significant increase in oil palm plantations in Southeast Asia, have led to deforestation, climate change, habitat loss, and disruptions to local communities.

Any material that is palm-based can be considered a palm oil derivative, and it is no easy feat to examine the true extent to which palm-based derivatives are embedded in our lives ( )

There are five basic oleochemicals: fatty acids, fatty alcohols, fatty methyl ester, fatty nitrogen compounds and glycerine. These substances, many of which come from palm kernel oil, are used in cleaning products like laundry detergents, and personal care products like shampoos, toothpaste, soaps and lotions, and cosmetics.

They often represent the structural ingredients in these products, and so make up the bulk of the formulations. For example, fatty alcohols and fatty acids from palm oil are used to make surfactants, which are the basis of almost all products used for personal cleansing, laundering, dishwashing and household cleaning.


Cleansing surfactants, also known as primary detergents, are chemicals that reduce the surface tension of water and solubilize fats, so the water can quickly wet a surface and soil can be loosened and removed. In the personal care sector, palm derived oleochemicals are used as surfactants (used in lotions), emollients (used in moisturizers), and humectants (also used in moisturizers), as well as a viscosity modifier,

conditioning agent and antioxidant.

Oleochemical derivatives such as surfactants, glycerine and emulsifiers can be difficult to source from sustainable sources, due to the restraints of the supply chain. This is because palm kernel oil has a more complex supply base than palm oil. The oleochemicals can vary and be replaced by other plant based oleochemicals (i.e. from coconut) or petrochemicals, depending on market price. Therefore, they are often not tracked.


“For years, environmental groups have targeted large users of palm oil with campaigns to raise awareness of the environmental and social impacts of its production. Their targets are usually large multinational corporations that use oil palm products in the manufacturing of fast-moving consumer goods – companies like Unilever, Nestlé and PepsiCo. These campaigns have gone a long way to raise consumer awareness of the prevalence of palm oil in many edible and non-edible goods, and to encourage brands to make decisions over whether to go “palm-oil free” or source sustainably produced palm oil.

In line with consumer demand for sustainable produce, palm oil producers and users have been taking steps to improve the transparency and traceability of their palm oil sourcing. But for manufacturing processes and product materials that continue to fly under the radar(which is the majority), there is little opportunity to leverage for change and little impetus for users to step up action for sustainability. Within these industrial and chemical manufacturing sectors, palm oil is being increasingly touted as a green and renewable feedstock. But with such murky supply chains and little assurance that palm oil has been produced free of deforestation and exploitation, work is needed to understand how viable it is as an alternative to petrochemical processes” (

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