Scottish University Develops Sustainable & Clean Label Alternative to Palm Oil

Scientists at Scotland’s Queen Margaret University have developed a healthier and more sustainable alternative to palm oil. Called PALM-ALT, the ingredient is fully plant-based, made from a byproduct of the linseed industry along with fibre and rapeseed oil.

Palm oil is considered problematic due to its environmental impact, with palm plantations a key driver of deforestation and habitat destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia. Despite this, the ingredient is still widely used in the food industry and elsewhere, as a replacement with the same properties is currently not available at a competitive cost.

“We are keen to connect with food companies who are interested in replacing palm-based fat”

The development of a more sustainable alternative has the potential to reduce transport emissions as well as deforestation; PALM-ALT can be made exclusively with ingredients sourced from within the UK and the EU, and could also be produced locally elsewhere in the world. Additionally, the clean label product contains 88% less saturated fat than palm oil, while giving the same performance in food products such as baked goods.

the fruit of the palm oil used for palm oil production
© Clean Food Group

Palm oil alternatives

Queen Margaret University is not the first to attempt to replace palm oil; the UK’s Clean Food Group is working to develop cultivated palm oil through the fermentation of a proprietary strain of yeast. Meanwhile, Estonia-based ÄIO is upcycling agricultural and wood industry sidestreams into nutrient-rich fats with the potential to act as a palm oil substitute.

“We set out to develop a new ingredient that would not only be better for the environment but also healthier than palm fat and current alternatives,” said Dr Julien Lonchamp of Queen Margaret University. “Our team has patented the PALM-ALT composition and process and we are currently in discussions with a number of partners to implement the novel palm replacer at the industry level. We are therefore keen to connect with food companies who are interested in replacing palm-based fat in their products using our novel ingredient.”

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