Palm oil – questions & challenges

The Palm Oil question. Something we get occasionally. And it is an important question. Consumers should be paying more attention to the ingredients used in their skin and hair care.  In the light of these, our Australian, Penang Island-based Chief Formulator, Dr. Mike Thair, responds below.

However, before responding it is necessary to provide my credentials. Often criticisms come from those with little or no experience or knowledge of environmental issues. In fact, many have never seen a Palm Oil plantation. I am an Australian scientist, lecturer, and international advisor.  My work over the past 40 years has included advising Governments, companies, and Development Banks (World Bank, Asian Development Bank, etc.) globally. Furthermore, my work is in-country on environmental issues associated with mining, agriculture, and urban development. Also, as a scientist and advisor internationally, my work is on the ground dealing with issues, and not in some distant office.

Yes, I have witnessed the environmental havoc created by these plantations. In particular, Indonesia.

The Indochine Natural response is:

We only purchase Palm Oil from Peninsular Malaysia.

Palm is an excellent ingredient, adding hardness to bars.

Our oil comes from long-established plantations. They have set these up since pre-Malaysian independence. Therefore over 60 years.

Our Palm Oil comes from RSPO plantations.

All the ingredients we use must have a laboratory Certificate of Analysis (CoA) linked to a unique Lot Number. Every ingredient used in our products is traceable back to the source. Each ingredient is linked with laboratory analysis performed by external labs plus our own in-house labs. We have our own microbial lab and a physical chemistry lab.

Under these conditions, I am confident about our sourcing and sustainability of Palm Oil. On the negative side, yes there are challenges. However, I believe we can better influence others by setting high sustainability standards.

Now let’s talk about the sustainability of palm oil on mainland Malaysia

Palm Oil is the lifeblood of smallholders. In fact, smallholders manage 40% of the total oil palm planted area in Malaysia.  Ordinarily, a smallholder with a planted area of 3.9ha can earn a monthly net income of between RM2,000 and RM2,100. In any event, these are not the farmers who clear fell thousands of hectares and create environmental devastation. As a matter of fact, these smallholders are well supported by local NGO’s in becoming RSPO certified.

Notably, the success of sustainable commercial oil palm planting provides an effective tool to eradicate poverty. Especially in the rural area and create employment opportunities in the agriculture sector.

In conclusion,  I welcome questions and comments. Please contact me (

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Dr. Mike Thair

Co-Founder & Master Formulator

Indochine Natural Sdn Bhd

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