Experts at a Scottish university have created a “game-changing” replacement for palm oil.
Food scientists at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh said the new palm fat substitute is “healthier” and more “environmentally friendly” than palm oil.
The substitute, named PALM-ALT, uses products available on all continents which means it can be produced locally on a global scale.
Given the fact that palm oil production has become detrimental to the rainforest, the sustainable nature of the replacement could prove popular.
Palm oil is major ingredient across the food industry, and is commonly used in the production of cakes, biscuits, pastries, confectionery, ready meals and sauces. Its high saturated fat content allows products to remain solid at room temperature and has proven crucial to the industrial bakery sector.
As well as the environmental benefits, the replacement could offer significant solutions for the food industry allowing manufacturers to satisfy increasing consumer demand for lower fat, healthier food products.
Should the industry opt to use the new replacement, there is a potential to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the impact of food miles and deforestation of global rainforests associated with palm production.
The new substitute known as PALM-ALT has been developed by Dr Julien Lonchamp, reader in Food Science, and Catriona Liddle, head of the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation (SCFDI) at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.
Ms Liddle said: “Palm can only be harvested in rainforest areas of the globe, thousands of miles away from many of the countries that use the product.
“Current production methods leading to deforestation of tropical rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia have led to the destruction of animals’ natural habitat, and high greenhouse gas emissions linked to its global transport.
“It is therefore essential to develop an alternative product, which works well for the food industry and helps reduce the world’s overreliance on palm.”
The research team confirmed that the substitute product is palm and coconut free and 100% plant based.
It’s also an allergen-free product with no added flavourings, sugar, sweeteners, preservatives or colourings.
Dr Lonchamp said: “Following a preliminary study to show the potential of a novel ingredient composed of a linseed industry by-product, fibre and rapeseed oil, the QMU team secured funding from *Innovate UK to demonstrate the feasibility of PALM-ALT, develop its production to factory level, and collaborate with a range of food companies to develop palm-free versions of their commercial products.”