KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) has slammed a French senator’s proposed “Nutella tax” – the imposition of a 300% tax increase on palm oil — and urged the French government to reject the plan.
Expressing deep concern, he pointed out: “The proposal is based on inaccurate claims that palm oil is bad for health and nutrition, and that Malaysia does not respect the environment.
“Palm oil is a healthy, natural and important product which 240,000 small farmers in Malaysia are proud to produce.” The Nutella tax to be voted on this week will raise taxes on palm oil by 300% and it is viewed as a strategy to add to the French Government’s coffers but it is also aimed to reduce widespread consumption in the country.
According to wire reports, palm oil is used as the primary ingredient in France’s favourite chocolate hazelnut spread as well as other pastries and processed foods. The average French person consumes two kg of palm oil a year, or 126,000 tonnes collectively.
The wire report said the proposed tax would translate to a 6 euro cent hike per kilo of Nutella, or 30 euro cents on giant 5 kg pots of Nutella most commonly used in restaurants and creperies across France.
Yusof urged the French government to reject the proposed tax which was part of an “aggressive and unprovoked attack against palm oil”.
“Instead, Senator Daudigny should focus his efforts on all saturated fats. This campaign has already been the focus of a complaint by small farmers in Africa and Malaysia.
“These actions will significantly undermine the competitiveness of the French food industry – domestically and globally,” it said.
Below is the statement issued by MPOC Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron on the proposed “Nutella Tax” offered by French Senator Yves Daudigny: Malaysia is deeply concerned with French Senator Yves Daudigny’s proposed 300 per cent tax increase on palm oil. The proposal is based on inaccurate claims that palm oil is bad for health and nutrition, and that Malaysia does not respect the environment.
Palm oil is a healthy, natural and important product which 240,000 small farmers in Malaysia are proud to produce. Contrary to Senator Daudigny’s comments, every nutritional and food expert concludes that palm oil is in fact free of dangerous trans fats, free of GMOs and contains valuable vitamins.
A study from Fonds Francais Alimentation et Sant finds that replacing palm oil is a bad option for French consumers, potentially leading to a rise in the level of trans fat consumption. It is important that allegations or claims made about palm oil as high in saturated fat are assessed in relation to the total fats consumption of the French population.
The majority of saturated fats consumed in France comes from animal sources – from meat, milk, cheese and butter – not from palm oil.
The Senator’s proposal to deny palm oil its rightful place in food manufacturing will not only be an economic and functional opportunity loss to industry, but also for the French people if they involuntarily consume worse alternatives such as hydrogenated (high trans fat) sunflower or rapeseed oil.
The French consume about 101kgs of meat per person per year with an average of 15kgs of saturated fat content. Milk consumption per person is 92.2 liters containing 4kgs of milk fats which belong to the saturated fats category.
Cheese has 30% animal fat content and the French are well known to consume 24kgs of cheese per capita, which provides 8kgs of saturated animal fats. Butter consumption is 7.3kgs per capita which is 100% saturated animal fats.
If we were to add this up, the total animal saturated fats from milk, meat, cheese, and butter per person per year is 34.4kgs. In comparison palm oil consumption per capita in France is only 2kgs. “Malaysian palm oil has a proven track record on efficient land use and conservation. Malaysia has over 50 per cent of its land committed to forest cover, and has designated just over 24 per cent of total land area for agricultural purposes.
In contrast, forest area in France covers just 28 percent of total land area – but agricultural land covers over 50 per cent of total land area.
Palm oil yields 4.13 tonnes of vegetable oil per hectare, or 10, 7 and 5 times the yields of soybean, sunflower and rapeseed, respectively, and occupies less than 5 per cent of land under oilseed cultivation. The action taken by French Senator Daudigny, to propose onerous new burdens on palm oil producers, is irresponsible, badly-informed and ignores the primary source of saturated fats in the French diet.
Not only will the legislative proposal hurt local business communities in France, which have opted to use palm oil for its superior economic and functional attributes, but the attack comes after the start of talks by Malaysian palm oil representatives with French leaders, industry and civil society to work together to correct misperceptions about palm oil.
Over 240,000 small farmers across Malaysia depend on palm oil for their livelihood. In addition to this, many thousands of other jobs in Malaysia depend upon related industries.
Senator Daudigny’s actions jeopardize the livelihood of these farmers. We call upon the French government to reject the proposal by Senator Daudigny. Senator Daudigny’s proposed tax is part of an aggressive and unprovoked attack against palm oil. Instead, Senator Daudigny should focus his efforts on all saturated fats. This campaign has already been the focus of a complaint by small farmers in Africa and Malaysia. These actions will significantly undermine the competitiveness of the French food industry – domestically and globally.
Source : The Star
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