Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Oil palms are originally from Western Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Today, almost all palm oil is produced in, and exported from, Indonesia and Malaysia; but most of the time not using sustainable measures.
Vast areas of pristine rainforest is slashed and burned each year in order to make way for oil palm plantations. Many orangutans and other wildlife are killed in the process, so that this one vegetable oil can be used in many of our everyday foods and products. This large-scale deforestation is pushing orangutans to extinction, along with many other native species of Borneo and Sumatra.
Palm oil is an extremely popular vegetable oil amongst manufacturers. It is used in over 50% of products, including: baked goods, confectionery, cosmetics, body products and cleaning agents. But in many countries, there is no law on the mandatory labelling of palm oil. Consequently, companies will usually hide palm oil under the name of 'vegetable oil', or over 170 other names
Because palm oil isn't labelled in many countries, consumers are blinded to the fact that many of the products they are buying contribute to this unprecedented disaster.