In the food industry, palm oil is used as a cooking oil and shortening and in the manufacture of margarine, non-dairy creamers and ice cream. It is also used in products where animal fats are unacceptable on religious grounds.
Palm oil has a high resistance to oxidation and therefore a long shelf life. These properties make it particularly suitable for use in hot climates and as a frying fat in the snack and fast food industry.
Traditionally, the main non-food uses for palm oil have been in the manufacture of soaps and detergents and in the production of greases, lubricants and candles. More recently, the biofuels market has provided a significant new non-food use for palm oil where it is used as the feedstock for the production of biodiesel and as an alternative to mineral oils for use in power stations. The fatty acid derivatives of palm oil are used in the production of bactericides, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and water-treatment products.