Palm Oil Industry in Latin America - Statistics & Facts

Palm oil is a component of many everyday products, such as lipsticks, pizza dough, instant noodles, shampoos and ice creams. It is an edible vegetable oil extracted from the fruit of oil palm trees. Worldwide, most of these trees are found in Indonesia and other Asian countries, nevertheless Latin America also account for a significant RSPO-certified planted area (898200) of the tree. Leading countries producing palm oil in the region are Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Costa Rica.

In Brazil, one of the most important companies of the sector is Agropalma. The company employs thousands of workers and produces not only palm oil, but also other derivatives and elaborations of it, such as palm kernel oil extract and oil palm fiber. In 2017, the company's production of such products amounted to nearly 550 thousand metric tons.

In 2018, the total palm oil production in Brazil was forecasted to amount to 500 thousand metric tons, while the consumption volume for the same year was estimated at around 640 thousand metric tons. As that year the production in the country was below its domestic consumption, Brazil was the second largest importer of the vegetable oil, only behind Colombia.

In Mexico, the area planted with palm trees is smaller than the soybean planted area, however the production of the vegetable oil has been growing. The North American country supplies the domestic market, which has a high consumption demand, and still exports a significant amount of it. Even palm oil producing countries, such as Ecuador currently import it from Mexico. Similarly, Colombia, also a leading producer of palm oil, imported over 148 million U.S. dollars of it only in 2017.

While the palm oil market has a size of billion U.S. dollars, it is causing worldwide environmental and social problems. It is known that orangutans are an endangered species, particularly in Asian palm oil producing countries, as the cultivation of the oil plant destroys its natural habitat. The industry also has a large carbon footprint, thereby increasing the climate catastrophe. Socially, reports have already denounced the use of modern slavery as well as human trafficking and child labor in the palm crop production sector.

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Palm oil industry in Latin America

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