In the early stages of fruit formation, the oil content of the palm fruit is very low. As the fruit approaches maturity, oil formation rapidly increases to around 50% of the mesocarp weight. In fresh ripe, unbruised fruit, the free fatty acid (FFA) content of the oil is less than 0.3%.
In ripe fruit, however, the exocarp becomes softer and more vulnerable to attack by lipolytic enzymes, especially at the base when the fruit is separated from the bunch. The enzymatic attack leads to an increase in the FFA of the oil through hydrolysis.
Studies have shown that if the palm fruit is bruised, the FFA of the damaged part of the fruit can rapidly increase to 60% within an hour. Therefore, the composition and quality within a bundle varies widely, depending on how bruised a bundle is.