The new refinery, situated at the Maasvalkte in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is expected to start production in spring 2010.
The oils and fats specialist says the site allows it to expand from palm-based products to supply lauric products such as palm kernel oil (which has a high content of lauric acid), as well as mixtures.
Production of palm kernel oil has increased in recent years from 2.99m tonnes in 2001/2 to 4.44m in 2006/7, according to the Scottish Crop Research Institute. This is said to be due to increased areas under palm production.
It has both non-food and food uses, the latter including spreads, frying oils, ice cream, non-dairy whipping creams, coffee whiteners
In addition, it will also enable the use of large-scale enzymatic intersterification for the first time, using fewer chemicals and generating less waste water than the chemical process.
Interesterification is the process whereby one triglyceride molecule is moved to another, in order to modify the melting point, slow rancidity and make an oil that tastes good and is low in saturated fatty acids. Chemical interestification has been predominant process in the past, as the enzymatic process was difficult and prohibitively expensive at large scale.
Sustainable palm oil
Loders Croklaan, which is owned by Malaysian palm plantation company IOI, has been a leading light in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil.
In the future, the Rotterdam refinery will be equipped to process sustainable palm oil separately, and in accordance with the segregation method.
Since sustainable palm oil first became available in Europe last year. Manufacturers can either buy oil that has been sustainably produced (identity preserved) and/or kept separate from other palm oil throughout the entire supply chain (segregated).
Alternatively, the manufacturer can buying certificates that are not tied to a batch, but the cost of which goes to the plantation in lieu of a premium. The certificate holder then sources its palm oil requirements through the normal supply chain, but the actual oil received does not necessarily actually contain sustainable oil.