Palm Oil Industry in Latin America - Statistics & Facts
Palm oil is the most extensively produced kind of edible oil around the world. It is a component of many everyday products, such as lipsticks, pizza dough, instant noodles, shampoo and ice cream. Extracted from the fruit of oil palm trees, it is mainly produced in Indonesia and Malaysia. However, some Latin American countries such as Guatemala and Colombia are also among the leading providers of palm oil in the world.
In contrast, the palm oil industry in Mexico is considerably smaller than that of Colombia and Brazil. However, the country has a high consumption demand, resulting in an increase on planted area. In addition, the North American country imports millions of dollars’ worth of palm oil, making it the main importer of the product in Latin America, and Colombia’s fourth major export destination. Mexico’s main import partners also include other countries within the region, such as Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
While the Latin American palm oil market has a size of billions of U.S. dollars, the massive use of this product is causing worldwide environmental and social problems. Extensive cultivation of oil palm trees destroys rainforest ecosystems and the natural habitat of a wide variety of animal species. In addition, the industry has a large carbon footprint which largely contributes to global warming. To promote more sustainable and ethical practices in this sector, organizations such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) have emerged. In Latin America, at least 340 thousand hectares planted with oil palm trees were certified by the RSPO . In order to be certified, plantations have to follow certain social and environmental standards, providing the consumer with a more sustainable and ethical product.
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