KUALA LUMPUR: Palm oil will continue to be the powerhouse of the oils and fats market, despite continued allegations around tropical deforestation and misleading anti-palm oil campaigns.
Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) said palm oil was the largest produced vegetable oil in 2020, accounting for 31 per cent of the world’s oils and fats products at 235.4 million tonnes, compared to 25 per cent of soybean oil and 11 per cent of rapeseed oil in the same year.
The government agency, which is responsible for the promotion and development of the local palm oil industry, said palm oil covered 23.4 million hectares of cultivation land in the world or five times smaller than soybean cultivation area.
MPOB said palm oil produces on average 3.24 tonnes per ha annually, equivalent to seven times more than soybean oil and four times more than rapeseed and sunflower oils.
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From frying oils to shortenings in baking, palm oil is used in various products as it is the only vegetable oil that naturally semi-solid at room temperature with a balanced content of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids (about 1:1).
Palm kernel oil, which has a sharp melting profile, can be physically fractionated into palm kernel stearin which is widely used as confectionery fats.
MPOB said numerous research and efforts with investments of millions of capitals to imitate palm oil were carried out due to its versatility and functionality.
However, it said none of the existing alternatives to palm oil was currently economically or environmentally viable at scale.ADVERTISING
Meanwhile, the latest figures showed that about 55.6 per cent of Malaysia’s 33 million ha of land areas are under forest cover, exceeding the country’s initial pledge of 50 per cent forest cover at the Rio Earth Summit 1992.
MPOB said efforts to support the forest coverage included the development of an ecosystem monitoring system, replanting of trees, rehabilitation, ecosystem-based projects, nature-based solutions and ecosystem services.
It also focuses on the sustainable management of natural areas and resources, improvement of yield and productivity of commodity without expansion of land.
MPOB said the Mandatory certification of Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) on January 1 last year ensured responsible and sustainable production, as well as transparency and traceability along the palm oil supply chain.
The MSPO certification also covered the protection of biodiversity and the environment.
As of December 31 last year, 88.25 per cent of the total oil palm planted areas in the country had been certified.
The government has also established “Malaysian Palm Oil Green Conservation Foundation” to support conservation efforts to enhance the image of palm oil as a sustainable product.
In Sabah, the One Million Trees Planting Project, mainly funded by the Malaysian palm oil industry players was launched to contribute to the enhancement of carbon stocks and simultaneously create new carbon sinks within the forest or oil palm landscape.
MPOB said Malaysian palm oil represented more than 500,000 smallholders and their families, and more than 416,270 workers in the whole sector of which 76.48 per cent were foreign workers.
Source : NST