Palm oil plays an important role in ensuring food security. Through the industries’ research and development efforts, and investments in advanced technology, the Malaysian palm oil industry can provide the balance between meeting increasing demand and achieving it with as little environmental impact as possible.
What is food security? According to the FAO, food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
In 1999, per capita consumption of fats and oils in food products totaled 31 kilograms.
If world population increases by 80 million per year – there will be an additional demand of 2.5 million tonnes that need to be fulfilled. While 31 kilograms per person, is a global average – there is nothing to indicate that this historical increase in usage has not, and will not, continue in the future.
That fulfillment is not possible without greater yields, which is why the Malaysian palm oil industry has invested heavily in ensuring that oil palm yields are increased. With land devoted for agriculture development becoming scarce, palm oil’s contribution to ensure food security will come from successful research carried out in Malaysia, whereby cloned oil palms, capable of producing 25 to 50 percent more fresh fruit bunch yield are already planted in the fields. As such, higher land productivity than that obtained currently, can be expected from oil palm in the future, without resorting to felling more new land.
Additionally, palm oil is a nutritious and calorie rich food. It has no trans fats, which scientists have learned can have harmful consequences when consumed in large amounts. As a result, the American Heart Association has consistently stated that trans-fats have a more harmful health impact than saturated fats. Many national and sub-national governments have restricted or banned the use of trans-fats as a result.