Part of why palm oil has such a wide and diverse reach is due to its cost—and land-efficient nature. It is the highest-yielding vegetable oil crop, and it only needs half as much land as its counterparts to produce the same amount of oil.
While this makes a strong case for palm oil, there is one considerable drawback to its current production: deforestation. Each year, 620,000ha of rainforest are lost forever in Indonesia, and the biggest contributor to this is the palm oil sector, according to The Ecologist. Losing these forests affects our climate and pushes some species to the brink of extinction, including the Sumatran Tiger. In some cases, local communities are not consulted over the use of their land and are forced to leave so that more forests can be cleared and palm oil plantations can be created.
So then, what is the solution to this conundrum? One possible route is for product companies to stop sourcing their palm oil from deforested lands. Companies like Nestlé, Unilever and Ferrero have already committed to policies like this.