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The 'Holy Grail' Alternative to Palm Oil

It is estimated that almost half of all food and cosmetic products on supermarket shelves contain palm oil - it's used in everything from chocolate to shampoo, biscuits, pizza, toothpaste and deodorant. But the palm oil industry (valued at around $62 billion globally) is environmentally terrible for our planet the huge demand leads to significant deforestation. So, this new alternative is excellent news.

Dr Julien Lonchamp and Catriona Liddle of QMU
Dr Julien Lonchamp and Catriona Liddle led the research team at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh | Credit: QMU

Food experts at Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh say their new 100 percent plant-based ingredient is 70 percent better for the environment. And with 80 percent less saturated fat and 30 percent fewer calories, they are also hailing PALM-ALT as a significantly healthier option. The new PALM-ALT is made from a by-product from the linseed industry, plus natural fibre and rapeseed oil.

The use of the land for palm oil cultivation, 85 percent of which is in Indonesia and Malaysia, has increased almost nine-fold from 3.3 million hectares (eight million acres) in 1970 to 28.7 million hectares (71 million acres) in 2020.

Environmentalists argue that the farming of oil palm trees is extremely bad for the planet as, more often than not, it requires deforestation - when forests and trees are cut down to clear the land to use it for something else.

But could that be about to the change, with the QMU team having an international patent application for PALM-ALT and discussions set to begin with prospective manufacturers? Let's hope so.


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