Loders plant feeds demand for trans fat alternatives

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Palm oil Nutrition

Supplies to meet demand of raw materials for trans fat alternatives
multiply as the first crude palm oil tanker arrives at Loders
Croklaan new refinery in Rotterdam, billed as the largest in

The first delivery of 10,000 tonnes of crude palm oil this week marked the commissioning of the first section of the refinery, taking a slice of its hefty total storage capacity of 50,000 tonnes.

The refinery, due to open for business in October, will deliver refined palm oil, palm oleine, and palm stearine.

"We are now on the eve of commissioning an enormous production capacity unparalleled in Europe,"​ says Michael van Sallandt, the refinery's director.

Investment by ingredient firms into palm oil-derived products has risen over recent months as food makers look for alternatives to artery-clogging trans fatty acids.

Malaysian-owned Loders Croklaan is seeking to plug into this demand, particularly by smoothing supplies along the chain.

"This control ensures for crude palm oil and refined finished products of a consistent high quality, placing the concern in an extremely strong position,"​ said the firm this week.

Linked to raised blood cholesterol levels and heart disease in animal fats, trans fats, created by a chemical process called hydrogenation used in the production process for longer shelf life, have come under fire from consumer pressing the food industry to cut its presence from foods.

This is of course driving market demand for alternatives to trans fatty acids, which is where palm oil has stepped in.

"It can be a major ingredient in most food formulations, and in most cases you would not even have guessed the inclusion of palm oil in such products.

Take different types of margarine, for example - palm oil provides the body or texture to these products in such a manner that no further modification of the oil is necessary,"​ Dr. Kalyana Sundarm, head of the food technology and nutrition unit at the Malaysian Palm oil board said recently FoodNavigator.com.

Over 26 million tonnes of palm oil are produced worldwide in tropical countries, with the number one supplier being Malaysia - that produced 13.3 million tonnes last year - followed by Indonesia and a raft of smaller producers.

Consumed in a wide variety of food products from instant noodles and crisps to cake mixes and snacks, palm oil has reaped a 28 per cent share of the total global supply and demand oil market. Today, soybean oil and palm oil account for over half of all oil consumed in the world.

"The EU has seen a rise in demand for palm oil, possibly linked to the anti-GM issue as well as the debate about trans fatty acids,"​an analyst at the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service recently told FoodNavigator.com.

And the steady prices born out by the oil are also attractive to the food industry vulnerable to price fluctuations from other popular oilseeds, such as soybeans and rapeseeds.

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