Palm Oil (P0) is obtained from the fruit of the oil palm tree, which grows well in hot, humid, tropical countries, the main ones being Malaysia and Indonesia. Because of its very high yield per hectare, and   good plantation management, palm oil has much the lowest cost of production of any oil. Its growth in the last 40 years has been spectacular. It is now the second largest oil in world production and on present trends, it will overtake soyabean oil in the next 10 years.

Palm oil is in fact a fat in temperate countries, with melting point of 33-39C, iodine value 50-55 and solid fat content about 26%. Its fatty acid composition is based on palmitic acid (44%), oleic acid (39%) and linoleic acid (11%). A major advantage is that unlike hydrogenated oils with the same melting point, it contains no trans fatty acids which are now accepted to be risk factors for heart disease. 

Crude PO is normally traded on the basis of 5% FFA, but most of the exported PO is RBD (refined, bleached and deodorised) grade with FFA 0.1% max. During transportation to distant countries some deterioration in quality is inevitable, but still this grade is acceptable for consumption without any further treatment, in many countries. In Europe and USA however it is always given a mild refining treatment.
The main uses of PO are in frying and in the production of margarines, shortenings and vanaspati.

The soap industry is also a big user although with it, the colour of the soap is not quite as good as with tallow. On the other hand, its vegetable origin gives it other advantages.