KUCHING: Malaysian palm oil has found its way to many parts of the world despite incessant anti-palm oil lobbies in Europe, particularly in France.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who said this, attributed this achievement to the series of counter campaigns done through strategic alliances with palm oil processors and food manufacturers to address grave misinformation about palm oil.
He enthused that even international brands are now using palm oil proudly, and even when they were targeted these brands continued to stand firm by their product formulations.
“One such example we have witnessed recently in France is Nutella, the producer of the world famous chocolate spread with palm oil as a major ingredient. They came out openly and boldly in defence of Malaysian palm oil,” he said at a Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC)’s seminar and dialogue here yesterday.
The seminar themed ‘Reach & Remind Friends of the Industry’ and ‘Challenges and Opportunities in 2014’ dialogue, declared open by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, also featured a speaker from the Ferrero Group, who owns the Nutella brand, as a show of strong support for sustainable Malaysian palm oil.
Uggah, however, lamented that export revenue from the palm oil industry last year fell by 14.15 percent to RM61.29 billion, compared to RM71.4 billion in 2012, even though the volume registered in 2013 was 25.66 million metric tonnes where in 2012 it was 24.59 million metric tonnes.
“The primary or root cause of this decline was the lower average monthly Futures CPO (crude palm oil) prices that were traded with lows in July 2013 of RM2,289 and then trending higher during December and averaged at RM2,618.
“I am indeed hoping that the December 2013 upward trend would be the start of a price rally and, thereafter, we hope to continuously see higher CPO prices throughout 2014.”
He also mentioned that low stockpiles unfortunately were not equated with a higher price for CPO, citing the CPO stockpile of 1.98 million metric tonnes as at December 2013 compared to the all time high of 2.63 million tonnes in December 2012.
Also somewhat of concern to him was that soybean oil had continued to maintain a healthy premium over palm oil, with Malaysia’s efforts to narrow such price differentials not having been successful.
He suggested this was an opportune time to create a think tank to address this issue and make palm oil more profitable.
“As part of our price management tools, we are also putting significant emphasis on the increased use of palm biofuels in the country.
“Blends up to B10 are already in the pipeline and we will continue to move ahead towards full implementation.
“This is an important strategy since it helps to manage CPO stocks and signal to the world our willingness to take appropriate measures to support the palm oil trade.”
Uggah later told reporters that he did not rule out possibility of Malaysia working with Indonesia on a programme to jointly counter anti-palm oil campaigns.
He said based on bilateral meetings between the top leaders of both countries last year, the cooperation would include the world’s two main palm oil producers jointly promoting palm oil overseas, including in Europe.
Meanwhile, MPOC chairman Datuk Lee Yeow Chor said Europe, especially France, is a hotbed for anti-palm oil campaign with an increasing number of French food manufacturers labelling their products as ‘no palm oil’.
“This could prove disastrous if left unchallenged. MPOC, therefore, has instituted a legal action in the Paris Commercial Tribunal against a leading French supermarket chain, Casion, challenging their no palm oil label claims.
“The proceedings are ongoing and we are hopeful for a favourable outcome from the French courts.”
Source : The Borneo Post