BARRANQUILLA, Colombia – Extracting phytonutrients and vitamins from palm oil represents a lucrative new line of business for Latin America’s palm sector, according to industry experts at the Palmex Latinoamerica 2016 trade fair.
Palm growers and palm-oil producers can make around $50 million a year by processing 20 tons of day of their own stocks of distilled fatty acids, Jose Pedro M. Ferrero, head of development for Spanish chemical engineering company Palmvit, said at the start of the gathering in Barranquilla, which brought together 1,500 people.
“A kilo of Vitamin E from palm rich in tocotrienol – which is an antioxidant between 40 and 60 times more potent than tocopherol, found in soy and sunflower – is selling for $1,000 with a concentration of 95 percent,” he said.
Demand for ProVitamin A derivatives rich in betacarotenes, phytosterols and squalenes is growing at rates of 3.9 percent, 7.2 percent, and 10.2 percent, respectively, Ferrero said, citing figures from Transparency Markets Research, Grand View Research, and Markets and Markets.
The food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries are “avid” for supplements that are 100 percent natural, the executive said.
The Palmvit team who designed facilities that currently supply antioxidants in Europe and North America are now implementing in Latin America a technology for extracting vitamins from palm oil.
Vitamins and other nutrients found in palm oil are used to reduce cholesterol, slow cellular aging, and to improve vision, skin and cardiovascular health.
“These phytonutrients, incorporated in food and beverages, nutritional supplements, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, satisfy a growing demand that generates a global business volume of more than $1.7 billion,” Ferrero said.
The demand is such that “if all of the fatty acids generated by Latin America’s palm industry were processed to obtain vitamins, it would supply only 3.8 percent of the global market,” Palmvit says.