Palm Oil

Palm Oil Trading

Imperium Commodity Search is a specialist headhunter focused on the global commodity trading markets, covering all soft / agricultural commodity types including edible oils and palm oil. 

We have experience working with both multinational trading houses and palm oil boutiques on the trading, production, transportation and analysis of the global palm oil markets and the exceptional candidates that make it happen. 

What is Palm Oil? 

Palm oil is the edible oil that is extracted from the fruit of oil palm trees, most commonly the East African Oil Palm.  Although we now associate palm oil production with Indonesia and Malaysia, the trees were initially native to Africa and were only introduced to the Asian countries around 100 years ago as ornamental/decorative trees.  Now Malaysia and Indonesia account for over 80% of global palm oil production and have enormous forests of oil palm.  

Palm Oil is split into two categories, Crude Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil.

Crude Palm Oil is the oil extracted from the processing of the palm fruits and is refined to produce vegetable oils, butters and to a smaller scale, animal feed. 

Palm Kernel Oil is the oil extracted from the pip or kernel of the palm fruit and is used as a cooking oil and also in cosmetics/soaps.  It has a higher saturated fat content when compared to crude and makes excellent cooking oil due to its stability at high temperatures and relatively low cost compared with other edible oils. 


Palm Oil is a well known commodity due to numerous advertising campaigns and charity drives in reference to the farming methods associated with its production.  The largest controversy surrounding palm oil production comes from the deforestation and loss of habitat in countries of origin which have put strain on the Orangutan and Sumatran Tiger species, both of which are critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List which keeps track of species at high risk of going extinct. 

Many companies that purchase palm oil have signed up to organisations committed to the sustainability of palm oil production.  Nestle for example work with their main supplier Golden Agri Resources alongside TFT (The Forest Trust) with a target to be a ‘no deforestation’ palm oil user by 2020. 

Many supermarkets, producers and merchants of products containing palm oil display the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) logo on their products to show consumers they work with companies and suppliers committed to improving the sustainability of palm oil production and reduce deforestation.

How is Palm Oil traded? 

Palm Oil is traded by local trading houses and producers with relationships at source, building and maintaining supply agreements with producers of oil palms and purchasing these for crushing/production.  Traders exist at numerous stages of the palm oil process, from the fruits through to finished oils that are traded into food manufacturers and producers. 

Palm Oil is shipped in special steel containers to maintain temperature, light and oxygen levels to prevent the cargo from become sour or solidifying in transit.  The containers are set to circa 100 degrees Fahrenheit for shipping and contain CO2 to prevent oxidation of the palm oil. 

Physical Traders are responsible for managing relationships with crushers and extractors who produce finished product; purified and liquefied palm oil.  On the customer side, physical traders sell the product into manufacturers of food products as well as cosmetic/detergent producers. 

Palm Oil Futures are traded on the Bursa Malaysia which is the most liquid palm oil futures market in the world.  Both risk management professionals and speculators/prop traders utilise the Bursa Malaysia for futures and options trading.

Where is Palm Oil traded?  

Indonesia and Malaysia are by far the two largest producers of palm oil in the world.  The top 5 (in MT)  are currently: 

  • Indonesia (33.4m)
  • Malaysia (19.9m)
  • Thailand (1.8m)
  • Colombia (1.2m)
  • Nigeria (900k)

Palm Oil is used globally in food production.  The top 5 importers of Palm Oil (by USD) in 2018 were: 

  • India (5.5bn)
  • China (3.4bn)
  • Pakistan (1.9bn)
  • Netherlands (1.8bn)
  • Spain (1.3bn)

Who are the clients? 

Large amounts of the global palm oil supply ends up with the food industry, but lots goes to cosmetics, detergent and shampoo producers as well.  Some countries use palm oil as a biofuel.  Traders often have exclusive agreements with certain food companies for the supply of their palm oil negotiated at a lower rate and monthly quantity of shipments. 

What is the Salary for a palm oil trader? 

Palm Oil traders earn a base salary and bonus in line with their performance or profit.  The average salary for a mid-seniority palm oil trader in Singapore is around 6-10,000SGD per month.  This can vary dependant upon experience and ‘book’ of the individual trader. 

In Europe, palm oil traders are often focused on the sourcing side, and work for manufacturers or producers tasked with sourcing palm oil from trading houses and producers in the countries or area of origin. 

Imperium Commodity Search – Recruitment Consultants and Headhunters to the global Palm Oil trading markets 

Imperium Commodity Search has worked with both producers and trading houses with a vested interest in both the sustainability and trading of palm oil and associated products.  We are experienced in placing front and middle office personnel within a range of palm oil participants including trading houses, brokers and logistics companies. 

Imperium Commodity Search support global efforts to improve the sustainability within palm oil and protect endangered species at risk from the production and farming of oil palm.  As such, we are committed to only representing clients that have a clear plan to reduce their impact on the environment through their internal operations or are part of a sustainable palm oil association or body. 

If you would like to learn more about our current vacancies within palm oil trading, please contact our team on +44 (0) 203 927 5090 or register your cv online here and one of our Commodity Consultants will contact you ASAP.

To view our current palm oil / edible oil trading jobs and operations / support vacancies click here or contact one of our consultants to discuss current careers / jobs in palm oil trading and to discuss your needs in more detail. 

To find out how Imperium Commodity Search can help the growth of your palm oil trading desk click here or contact one of our consultants directly here for a confidential discussion

Contact Us

We are here to help. Speak to one of our experienced edible oil market recruitment consultants now on +44 (0) 203 927 5090


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