Little can be said to dispute the invariable practicality of the palm fruit. Its ample, fleshy mesocarp provides oil, and its seed, palm kernel oil. The oil, when processed to form oleochemicals and alkyl esters becomes a multi-purpose commodity. One of the best, and one of utmost use. This is a fact well-known to Jasri Mohd Rashid, managing director of the Premium Food Corporation. A true Malaysian at heart, the man is both opportunistic and resourceful, a firm reminder to all that knowing your market is key to building a successful business. In a nation gripped by an unending love of food cooked in the creamy goodness of coconut milk, where the coconut tree is fast depleting in number, he brings forth a solution with the aid of the Malaysian palm oil authorities: santan kelapa sawit.
One year past its introduction into the Malaysian market, where anything bearing the word lemak (fat) predominantly contains coconut milk, santan sawit has, amazingly, racked up an impressive list of converts. From supermarket chains to roadside stalls, santan sawit is testament to the versatility of the palm tree. Firmly-backed as far as quality goes, it is certified Halal by JAKIM, and bears the approval seals of both the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). Because it is both low in fat and cholestrol even while retaining the creamy, milky flavour so beloved by the people of our nation, it then becomes a viable alternative to its – it has to be admitted – less-than-healthy cousin, coconut milk.
The extended applications of palm oil, however, do not merely stretch this far. Tucked away into a corner of Shah Alam rests the D’Qisra headquarters, where all fantasies of health- conscious cheese become reality. Here, healthy gourmet cheese that speaks strongly for good health and the encompassing concept of wellness in life is created using contemporary bio-technology methods. Palm oil is homogenised, the product of which soon after undergoes regular cheese-making methods. Several processes later, the D’Qisra’s cheeses are revealed, similar in texture to regular cheese, and perfectly healthy for those who place special emphasis on such. It is similarly Halal certified, a definite plus as far as food quality goes.
With the rapid advancement of technology, it has become something of an enigma as to how the future will unfold. The present sees a myriad of uses for the humble palm tree; what, then, does the future see? If anything is certain, however, it is that this is a plant of life: sustainable and useful, it is Nature’s gift to mankind, certainly a gift to be cherished.