The environmental impact of palm oil production has been widely reported. Associated with deforestation, climate change and social economic issues, its cultivation has come under fire. However, in March 2022, Chain Reaction Research (CRR) identified a decreasing trend for deforestation linked to palm oil, which fell to its lowest level since 2017.1
In fact, palm is one of the most viable, efficient oil crops in the world, capable of high yields over small areas of land. Grown in regions around the equator, it produces 36% of the world’s vegetable oil on just 8% of the global land allocated to oilseed crops: just 0.31 hectare (ha) of land is required to produce 1 tonne of palm oil, compared with 1.34 ha for sunflower oil.2 Palm’s high output supports an argument that halting its production would put more pressure to open up forests for oil crop agriculture, leading to further deforestation and loss of biodiversity.3
Against a global backdrop of raw material shortages, including sunflower oil, and with supply chains subjected to tighter environmental policies, the perception of palm oil is shifting.
It’s an attractive option, too, given proposed EU legislation and environmental policies which are putting pressure on the animal feed industry to find safe alternatives to using antibiotics in farming. This, coupled with discussions around limiting the use of nitrogen-containing materials, is steering farmers to consider alternative ways of controlling pathogenic bacteria in the guts of swine and poultry and improving feed conversion ratios.
A number of certification schemes and initiatives are already established for producers to assess and monitor the implementation of sustainable practices regarding the production of palm oil. One of the most widely known is Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which upholds a set of environmental and social criteria with which members must comply in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).
As a leading palm-based agribusiness with over 500,000 ha of palm oil plantations, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) has built a transparent supply chain from its origin in Indonesia to the compound feed customer in Europe. A member of RSPO since 2005, it aligns with the organisation’s objective to promote the growth of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and multi-stakeholder governance.
Figure 1: Palm oil supply chain
Along with improved sustainability credentials, there is a growing awareness of the nutritional benefits of palm oil, as a natural energy source ingredient in animal diets. Its range of benefits includes antioxidants such as vitamin E and medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) C8, C10, and C12s, which are found either in oleochemicals or in derivatives from the refining process, such as palm kernel fatty acid distillate (PKFAD). The various MCFAs serve as a good input in animal feed with demonstrated positive effects on the intestinal health of farm animals. Next to MCFAs, the longer chain fatty acids, such as palmitic (C16), and related bypass fats provide significant improvements for increasing milk fat content and overall milk fat production in the dairy industry.
A recent review of the beneficial effects that dietary palm oil had on broiler chickens' overall growth performance traits concluded that palm oil exhibits good oxidative stability in broiler chickens due to the presence of prevalent phytonutrient elements in the oil. It also concluded that the inclusion of palm oil increased palmitic (C16) and oleic (C18) acids in tissue deposits, which improves meat stability and quality.4
The GAR brand GoNutri is a compound feed that improves animal health and welfare, with traceability from the ingredient’s source to the feed industry.
GoNutri Protect (MCFAs) range improves gut health of swine and poultry. It contains medium-chain free fatty acids and monoglycerides that strengthen the intestinal membrane’s integrity, minimise pathogenic bacterial growth, positively modulate intestinal flora and increase nutrient absorption.
GoNutri Energy (Long Chain FAs) range delivers a highly concentrated energy source for ruminants and can provide a balance between increasing milk fat percentage, milk production, fertility, and energy. It improves the gut health of swine and poultry and contains bactericidal properties that kill bacteria and help to replace antibiotics in diets.
As a nutritious and highly concentrated energy source for ruminants, swine and poultry that meets internationally recognised standards and certifications, farmers can be assured that they are making responsible choices in terms of sustainable animal feed.
To find out more visit gonutri.com.sg.
1. Chain Reaction Research The Chain: Deforestation Driven by Oil Palm Falls to a Four-Year Low.
2. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Palm oil and biodiversity. (2018, June).
3. Meijaard, E., Garcia-Ulloa, J., Sheil, D., et al. Oil palm and biodiversity: A situation analysis by the IUCN Oil Palm Task Force. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Oil Palm Task Force Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. xiii + 116pp. (2018, June).
4. Saminathan M., Mohamed WNW., Noh 'M., et al. Effects of dietary palm oil on broiler chicken productive performance and carcass characteristics: a comprehensive review. Trop Anim Health Prod. 2022 Jan 17; 54(1):64. doi: 10.1007/s11250-022-03046-5. PMID: 35038035. (2022, January).