Palm oil fresh fruit bunch
The history of palm oil stretches back thousands of years, with the oldest record of its use dating from 3,000 BC. In the late 1800s archaeologists discovered palm oil in a tomb located in Abydos, Egypt. It is believed that Arab traders had brought the oil to Egypt.
Palm oil in 3.000 BC
Mass of several kgs of palm oil found in a vessel enclosed in a tomb at Abydos.
Palm oil in middle 15th Century
Written records of palm oil being used as a local food source by European travellers to West Africa.
Palm oil in 16th & 17th Century
Red palm oil became an important item in the developing trade network supplying caravans and ships of the Atlantic slave trade.
Palm oil in 18th Century
British industrial revolution created palm oil demand for candle-making and as a lubricant for machines. This was supplied by a modest export trade from West Africa.
Palm oil in Early 19th Century
European-run plantations were set up in Central Africa and Southeast Asia.
Palm oil in 1902
German investment in Cameroon brought about the discovery of the Tenera breed of palm oil. This high-yielding breed is what is used today in large-scale plantations.
Palm oil in 1910
Palm oil was introduced into Malaysia by a Scotsman named William Sime and an Englishman by the name of Henry Darby.
Palm oil fresh fruit bunches (FFB)
Fresh fruit bunches like the one in the picture above grow on the tree and are harvested, then transported to a palm oil mill.
The mill process extracts the palm oil from the flesh of each individual piece of fruit contained on the bunch.
The palm kernel, the nut found in the centro of each piece of fruit, is extracted and sent to a palm kernel crushing mill. The oil is extracted from the kernel. The pulp left over from this process is pressed together, forming palm kernel cake or expeller.
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