International experts gathered at the 2018 Palm Oil Fair and Seminar (POTS) in Kuala Lumpur learned that cost savings, new applications and meeting FDA trans fat guidelines are among the factors driving palm oil use in U.S. food ingredients production. Katy Revels, Ph.D., a representative of Fuji Vegetable Oil, which has locations in the United States, shared some of the typical food applications for which palm oil is well suited.
The session highlighted palm oil as an alternative option for U.S. food manufacturers to eliminate trans fats, in part because of its natural semi-solid state. Rich in micronutrients, palm oil has the added nutritional benefits of supporting brain health, lowering blood pressure and anti-aging. It is also a preferred choice because of its fatty acid profile is a balance of saturated to unsaturated fats.
This presentation outlined why palm oil is trending in several typical American food applications:
- Instant noodles: Palm oil delivers on texture and high stability, with a prolonged shelf life.
- Animal fat substitutes: Palm oil can be used in place of pork lard and is interchangeable with tallow. Blending it with hamburger and sausage confers texture and stability as well as nutritional benefits.
- Milk fat substitutes: As Americans demand more non-dairy cheeses, palm oil provides food manufacturers with a texture, mouthfeel and flavor similar to milk fats. It’s also an economical alternative when used in sweetened condensed or evaporated milks.
- Baked goods: With the ability to retain moisture and a natural consistency without the need for hydrogenation, palm oil improves the consistency, texture and flavor of icing, cookies and biscuits.
- Pizza: Palm oil improves dough plasticity, keeping it from sticking.
- Ice cream: Americans love their ice cream to be smooth and creamy, which palm oil makes possible. It stays semi-solid in frozen temperatures and delivers an excellent mouthfeel as it thaws. Even better: There’s a cost savings when blending or replacing milk fat with palm oil.
- Fried foods: Palm olein, the liquid portion of palm oil, is more stable than soy or canola when used for frying. It also stays relatively clear and isn’t susceptible to smoking. The U.S. food industry can also appreciate that palm olein and super olein resist polymerization and gumming, oxidation, foaming, darkening and degradation into free fatty acids.
- Margarine and shortening: Palm oil shines as a trans fat replacement, delivering great melting properties and mouthfeel.