Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Palm oil uses

Palm oil uses covers a very wide field, ranging from food, health, oleochemicals, etc.. Unlike the other oil-bearing plants, its trees provide us two (2) types of products. Both can be processed into various types of derivative products. In the harvested bunches, we can get skin and bunches (29%), seeds or kernel (11%), and fruit flesh / fibers (60%). Pressing process of its fruit flesh (mesocarp) will produce (i) crude palm oil or CPO and its kernel (endosperm) will give us (ii) crude palm kernel oil or CPKO. Both have unique chemical characteristics and different nutrition.
Food and non-food application
It has the potential to be used in various applications. In practice, CPO is further processed or fractionated into olein which is raw material for cooking or frying oil. For other food purposes, it is widely used as shortening, margarine, vanaspati, cocoa butter substitutes, and other various ingredients. Its applications for non-food purposes also continues to grow, especially for oleochemicals, i.e. fatty acid, glycerin, etc., and various material for chemical industries, eg for the pharmaceutical industry. However, its main application is still for food stuff.
Palm oil uses in the food product formulation will provide better durability, because it is very stable against the process of rancidity and other oxidative damage. For that reason, it is the best for cooking or frying. They have a tendency to get crystallized in the form of small crystals, so that it can improve the performance of creaming when used in cakes and margarine formulations. Its palmitic acid content is very good for the aerated mixing of fat and sugar, for example in the baking process.
As fat products
They are good to be used to make vanaspati or vegetable ghee, which contains 100% vegetable fat; and then it can be used to substitute cocoa butter and butter milk. Bread produced from shortening from palm oil, has a better texture and durability. It is also widely used for the cream biscuits production, especially since its solids content and relatively high melting point.
With temperature regulation and fractionation techniques, it will obtain a variety of fractions with different characteristics and with a specific application purposes, in addition to olein and stearin fraction. One of popular method is double fractionation to result the superolein and the middle fraction (palm mid fraction/ PMF). PMF is used for manufacturing Cocoa Butter Equivalent (CBE) which has much higher economic value and used as a substrate for enzymatic reaction to yield CBE. On the world market; it can be priced to about USD480/ton. It is referred as specialty fats and has a very useful melting point for example if it is used as raw material for the manufacture of chocolate bars. Chocolate bars will remain solid at room temperature, but it soon melted in the mouth when chewed.
Palm oil uses could be developed even further in the future along with the rise of research to produce derivative products such as biodiesel.

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