When doing the initial research for our synthetic alternative to palm oil components, we quickly came across lots of information regarding the current palm oil industry. It soon became apparent that the economies of some countries, for example Indonesia and Malaysia, depend almost entirely upon the current methods of palm oil production. Therefore we compiled a detailed impact analysis report for synthetic palm oil, which can be found by clicking on the button to the right.

Is The Palm Oil Industry Irreplaceable?

There’s no doubt about it, the economies of Malaysia and Indonesia, amongst other countries, rely heavily on the cultivation of palm oil.

But could there be a viable alternative, another industry which could support the economy as effectively?

  • Industries such as livestock[1], agriculture[2], services[3], tourism[4] and so on are already well-established and support the countries’ economies alongside the palm oil industry

  • Focussed development on any of the industries is foreseen to maintain the economies but in the meantime, environmental problems arise. Livestock industry, first of all, results in land-clearance in order to plant feed crops for the livestock. 8% of global water is used in the industry for different purposes[5] and the waste water or manure created, often composed of nutrients and harmful components, would be discarded into rivers and seas which affect the natural water source. Water and soil are polluted by chemical pesticides and fertilisers used in agriculture industry[6]. In Malaysia, tourism is considered as profitable as palm oil industry but disturbs the ecosystem[7] through the construction of tourism facilities and an increase in carbon footprints[8]. Perhaps most interesting, the biotech industry is strongly supported by the Malaysian government[9], suggesting that our project may well have a future on Malaysian and Indonesian soil (see Patenting)

  • The palm oil industry is well-known for having a short payback period and is highly productive. If replaced by another sector, the new industries run the risk of being far less economical and efficient. Moreover, the palm oil industry is able to provide a better living for the workers by allowing the government to be able to provide basic facilities for the workers and the families in some properly planned plantations and mills.

Without the steady business for the countries that the palm oil industry provides, and without a real viable alternative to the wealth of income generated through this sector, it is probable that the unemployment figures will rise[10] and the living standard of the people who work in the palm oil industry might drop even lower. Therefore it is imperative to consider the implications of removing the palm oil industry completely from countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia before introducing a synthetic alternative to this naturally-occurring product.


[1] FAO (2004), Protein Source for the Animal Feed Industry
[2] MITI weekly bulletin; February 26th 2013
[3] Trading Economics, Malaysia GDP Annual Growth Rate
[4] Ibrahim, M. H., Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, Presentation: “Encountering the outflow of trainer and educated national talents in the tourism industry”
[5] Warwick University Resources
[6] Friends of the Earth (2008). Hoofprints: Livestock and its environmental impacts
[7] Internet Geography. What is the impact of tourism?
[8] Tourism Vision. Tourism and Climate Change: Emissions
[9] Frost & Sullivan (2009), “Overview: Malaysian Agricultural Biotechnology”, BIOTECHCORP
[10] Cheyenne Mountain Zoo