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Guess the super ingredient you never knew was inside everything from food to beauty products


I love visiting the supermarket. What many people view as a weekly chore to stock up on groceries is something I look forward to. Be it to check out new snacks, or to get the best ingredients for my next big cook-off, going to the supermarket is always a therapeutic experience for me.

But did you know, a trip to the supermarket can also be absolutely educational?

Prior to joining Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), I had no idea that palm oil was more than just a cooking oil or an ingredient in margarine. To me, palm oil was just a type of oil used for cooking. Boy was I surprised to find out that palm oil was in a myriad of everyday essentials that can be found in the supermarket.

Palm oil is not only used as a cooking oil like Filma but also in its solid form as margarine or shortening for baking.

From the moment you enter, you smell the scent of freshly made bread wafting through the baked goods section. Well guess what? Palm oil is likely to be a key ingredient in improving the texture of bread, and shortening made from palm oil is typically used for making puff pastries too! As a bonus, using palm oil and its derivatives for baking makes it suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

It is likely that the bakery in supermarkets use palm oil and shortening to improve the spring, weight, density and texture of the products. Using it also means the food is vegan-friendly. Photo by Jem Sahagun on Unsplash.

Strolling down the frozen foods and snacks aisle – did you know palm oil is also in pizza dough and chocolates? No? Well neither did I.

Imagine the frustration of opening a packet of frozen pizza only to find it stuck to its packaging; Or buying a chocolate bar that’s all melted. Palm oil prevents the pizza dough from sticking to its lid, and keeps chocolates from melting in our tropical weather, thanks to its high melting point of 350 degrees.

Palm oil creates a smooth, creamy texture and keeps chocolate from melting in hot climates. Photo by Vishnu Mk on Unsplash.

Aside from its obvious use in food, palm oil is also a key ingredient in shampoos, soaps and detergent! Palm oil is a critical raw material for producing surfactants that remove dirt from our bodies, clothes and other household articles. Yes, you’ve got palm oil to thank for keeping you squeaky clean and moisturised. It also helps us fight the spread of infection!

Palm oil can be found as different derivatives in different types of soaps and cleaning products because of its natural cleaning properties and foaming abilities.  Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Moving along from the food and cleaning aisles, let’s visit the cosmetics section. Maybe she’s born with it or maybe its palm oil. Yes, humble palm oil is present in lipsticks because of its moisturising properties and ability to hold colour well.

Palm oil provides a waxy texture that keeps lipsticks firm while holding onto colour. Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash.

While there are calls to ban palm oil, we shouldn’t. As the world’s most versatile vegetable oil banning palm oil would probably do more harm than good for the planet as there aren’t any vegetable oils that matche palm oils’ high yield and versatility.

So as a consumer what can you do to help the environment? Support sustainably grown palm oil in products. You can do this by looking for products that have the RSPO certified label the next time you go shopping at the supermarket, and supporting companies with commitments to sustainable palm oil sourcing. Additionally, you can download the Giki Badges app to help you scan thousands of supermarket products to see whether they are sustainable, healthy and ethical. If your favourite brands aren’t supporting sustainably produced palm oil, write to them about it.

The versatility of palm oil in commonly found supermarket items goes beyond the benefits mentioned here. For a more in depth look into what other applications palm oil has in our day-to-day lives, check out this neat little supermarket tool here.

Palm oil products in a supermarket.
About the writer:
Geraldine Lim is a Social Media Specialist at Golden Agri-Resources. She lives and breathes all things internet. When she is not online, she can be found cooking up her next gastronomical adventure in the kitchen.
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