Effect of COVID 19 on edible oil industry and Palm oil


The Corona pandemic has caused a havoc on the global economy. Some countries have been more affected than others. I however would like to focus on the effect of the pandemic on the edible oil industry and Malaysian Palm oil especially. Last week I attended a webinar hosted by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council with Dr Bhavna Shah, country representative of India/Sri Lanka as the speaker and what she said about the palm oil industry right now is really food for thought.

How has COVID 19 affected the edible oil industry? 

The pandemic caused shutting down of restaurants and catering businesses and hence a drastic reduction in the  import of edible oils.

People have reduced eating outside to a very large extent and also takeaway orders have declined. This situation was particularly grave during the lockdown period. The production of cooking oil comes under Essential goods services but the production of containers isn't. Labours migrated back to their villages from the cities in huge numbers during this period and hence a massive shortage of labour was created. Also the import of edible oils like palm oil was reduced to a large extent. Malaysia and Indonesia are the biggest producers of palm oil in the world and Malaysia is the largest importer of palm oil to India. With the international borders restricted, the FMCG industry had to suffer. The less privileged people of the society, who thrive on palm oil for cooking faced a difficult time. Prices shot up as demands were high and supply was low. 

Now what role does palm oil have in the FMCG industry? 

Palm oil is an integral part of hundreds of things that we use on a daily basis. 


Malaysian palm oil is an integral part of chocolates as it's an affordable alternative to cocoa butter. MPO enhances the fat stability of chocolates. Chocolates made with MPO do not require tempering (which is needed for the smooth and glossy finish of the chocolates) while the ones made with cocoa butter does. Chocolate biggies like Nestle, Kinder and Mars proudly use Malaysian Palm oil in their products. 

Instant noodles: Also called Ramen in Japan, instant noodles have been revolutionary in the food industry. With just the requirement of boiling water to make a complete meal, especially for youngsters and the culinary challenged people, instant noodles have become a household favorite. Malaysian palm oil helps in the stability and texture of the product and since it's neutral in taste, the oil doesn't affect the flavour of the food that it's used in.

Baked goods: Palm oil is used in innumerable baking goods as it is a healthier substitute to hydrogenated vegetable oil and margarine; as it naturally becomes solid at room temperature. Malaysian palm oil adds and retains moisture in baked goods.

The number of  items in our daily life which contain palm oil is countless. From lipstick to toothpaste, soaps to cleaning products,bio diesel to hundreds of other items. Not to forget it's a major cooking medium in many households and an integral ingredient in cakes, bread, chocolates, pastries, icecreams, etc.

So how has COVID19 affected the Malaysian Palm Oil scenario?

About 40% of palm oil demand has been destroyed; especially in the HORECA sector which is a major palm oil consumer. International crude palm oil prices dropped by more than 20 % because of the Corona virus restrictions enforced by India and other countries. India is the largest importer of Malaysian Palm oil followed by China.

In India, palm oil is used in Southern states as a major cooking medium. Although the demands have dropped significantly. The bakeries and restaurants have been on a break during the lockdown. The  import of Malaysian Palm oil has plummeted because of reduced demand and this may cause negative impact on the economy. The crude palm oil prices have crashed in Malaysia and Indonesia due to stalling of imports. The pandemic needs to get controlled soon otherwise even the edible oil industry is going to suffer a serious blow.

Dr Bhavna Shah

Let's not spread any false news about any industry and let's take all precautions to control this pandemic. Let's hope for a better economy and healthier future.

For more information, visit mpoc.org.my  FacebookTwitterInstagram


  1. Am about to attend the webinar this Saturday.
    Hope to know more about malaysian palm oil like u and share with the world it’s benefits. .

  2. This is good information on palm oil. I didn't know baked goods contained palm oil due to its solidifying. Thanks for the information.

  3. Palm oil is very benefitable and thats the reason I started using it in last year and I agree Covid-19 pandemic hit every industry badly.

  4. This is really sad that pandemic has affected edible oil industry badly. Hope things better soon . The webinar looking really interesting to me. Can you tell me who one can attend it.

  5. Thank u for teaching me about palm oil. Who knew how the product is so crucial and also impacted during 2020 exports. Brilliant topic

  6. i have been using palm oil but its like it is not fixed so we switch to olive oil n ghee. thats great to know about palm oil usage and impacts. thats really insightful.

  7. Heard a lot of health benefits of Palm oil. But I never used this oil. Thanks for sharing this informative article with us. I really want to attend this webinar.

  8. Thanks for sharing information about palm oil industry. This pandemic has played havoc on many such industries.

  9. What an enlightening read this post was. I honestly had no clue about any of this before I cam across your post.
    Noor Anand Chawla

  10. This post is such an eye opener. Covid 19 has totally riven the economy and gdp as swirled down. I never knew palm industry had been affected so bad. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I checked out at least 10 products in my house and shocking to see palm oil is an ingredient to all. Covid must have made it real tough to labours and industries like palm oil

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  13. You're absolutely spot on! The pandemic is here for a long haul; the edible oil industry is going to suffer further losses because of the decreased demand I believe.

  14. This was very informative. Didnt know much about palm oil industry. Yes this pandemic has spared no one n no industry. N its here to stay for a while.

  15. Palm oil is beneficial. Pandemic is left no industry left unaffected. However, surely interested to learn more.

  16. Pandemic has hit every industry . I didn't know baked goods contained palm oil due to its solidifying. Thanks for the information.

  17. Thanks for sharing this post. Very insightful details on palm oil.oved reading it 👍


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