History of Palm Cooking Oil in Indonesia
Cooking oil is one of nine basic necessities (Sembako) that has extremely important role to the people of Indonesia. This is because cooking oil has become an important part of the Indonesian cuisine. Apart from the increase in population and purchasing power, the eating habit of the Indonesians, who prefer deep-fried food is the driving factor behind the large cooking oil market in Indonesia.
Besides being important for Indonesians, cooking oil is also important for macroeconomic stability conditions. This is shown by the phenomenon of the scarcity of cooking oil, which can have an impact on the social, economic, and political conditions of the nation. This condition causes increased prices, which has an impact on inflation.
This shows that the role of cooking oil is very important for people’s lives, especially in Indonesia. But do you know the history of cooking oil?
The origin of the use of cooking oil in the world begins with the ancient Chinese, who started frying with oil from meat fat and then turned it into sesame oil in the San Guo era. The use of vegetable oils was also more varied, such as soybean oil in the Song Dynasty and peanut oil in the Qing Dynasty. Meanwhile, the history of the use of cooking oil in western countries started with cottonseed oil and then turned it into soybean oil.
Unlike other countries in the world, the history of cooking oil in Indonesia begins with the use of coconut oil. Indonesia, which has favorable geographical with a long coastline and with the potential of coconut trees. Therefore, the ancestors of the Indonesian people have always used coconut oil or kelentik oil as a cooking oil.
However, since the 90s, coconut cooking oil has begun to disappear from the market. This is due to the trade war with western countries as producers of other vegetable oils, such as soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil. Competitors use tricks to spread negative rumors that coconut oil is the source of all diseases. Because Indonesian nutritionists and other coconut oil producer countries can’t argue with this issue, coconut oil is avouded and feared by consumers.
Apart from the black campaign, cooking oil from coconut oil is also considered less competitive in price or less economical. The selling price of raw materials (raw coconut) is relatively high, so it is more profitable to sell raw coconut than to process and sell coconut cooking oil.
The same thing was also conveyed by Sahat Sinaga in a Webinar initiated by Majalah Sawit Indonesia on Wednesday (23/6). The Executive Director of GIMNI said that until before 1978, the cooking oil consumed by the Indonesian people and Southeast Asia was coconut oil. However, the war and the policy of controlling crop commodities in the Philippines for coconut caused a decline in production and soaring price. Since then, other alternative vegetable oils have been sought as raw materials for cooking oil.
Palm oil has emerged as an alternative raw material for cooking oil, especially in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Historical records of De Oliepalm and Investigations on Oilpalms mention that the introduction of oil palm to Indonesia for the first time occurred in 1848, until commercial plantations were developed in Pulo Raja (Asahan) and Sungai Liput (Aceh) in 1911. The initial goal of developing oil palm plantations in Indonesia was to produce palm oil, which was then exported to meet the needs of Europeans during the Industrial Revolution.
However, along with the discovery of palm oil separation technology in 1974, and began to be applied in Indonesia in 1978. This technology produces a liquid fraction or palm olein and a solid fraction or palm stearine. The liquid phase of palm olein is the raw material for making palm cooking oil.
Palm cooking oil has several advantages, such as stability at high temperatures during frying (heat resistance) both against oxidation or other degradation processes, so that palm cooking oil has a longer service life. In addition, palm cooking oil is also odorless, tasteless and can produce tastier and more crispy food (if fried using the deep-frying technique). With these advantages and characteristics, palm cooking oil can be used in cooking practices ranging from shallow frying, frying, and deep frying. Meanwhile, coconut cooking oil cannot be used at high temperatures or can only be used at a medium heat of around 185 degrees Celsius because it will ignite.
The high content of vitamin A (beta carotene) in palm oil also makes palm cooking oil very special. However, the industry produces palm cooking oil with a clear golden yellow color due to due the preferences of Indonesian consumers who are familiar with the clear and transparent coconut cooking oil and unaware of the culture of eating red palm oil from African. To increase the preference of Indonesian consumers for palm cooking oil at that time, a campaign and promotion of palm oil was carried out as a golden oil, that has a clear golden yellow color. This has implications for the removal of beta carotene, which causes the reddish-orange pigment.
On the other hand, through SNI Minyak Goreng (SNI 7709:2019), the Indonesian government requires industry to fortify vitamin A and/or pro-vitamin A in palm cooking oil, where vitamin A is a synthetic vitamin which is mostly sourced from imports.
These two things are very contradictory, on the one hand, eliminating beta carotene as a vitamin A precursor is due to consumer preference, while on the other hand, there is a mandatory policy to fortify vitamin A into cooking oil. Besides that, palm oil stakeholders have begun campaigning for the consumption of red palm oil, which is expected to raise the awareness of Indonesian consumers to consume processed food products (cooking oil and others) that can benefit the body.
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