PUTRAJAYA: The Primary Industries Ministry is identifying new potential markets for palm oil in Africa, home to 1.2 billion people, as some countries in the continent boast rapid economic growth, according to its minister Teresa Kok.
As palm oil is one of the most affordable cooking oils compared with soybean oil, sunflower oil and olive oil, she said it has the potential to produce palm oil-based products as a viable option for Africans.
“Malaysian palm oil has a vast potential in these African countries, which are supported by strong economic growth that could directly boost demand for cooking oil, ” she told Bernama.
Citing Ethiopia, which she visited last month, as an example, Kok said the country, which has a population of 100 million, records a stunning economic growth rate of between 9.0% and 11%.
“So, Ethiopia has a tremendous potential for our country’s palm oil, ” said Kok, who is intensifying efforts to find new markets for palm oil amid the ongoing anti-palm oil campaign.
Ethiopia, in 2018, imported 149,435 tonnes of Malaysian palm oil and palm oil-based products worth RM457.17mil.
Kok said the government continued its efforts to thwart the anti-oil campaign and eliminate trade barriers to increase market access of palm oil through the RM27mil allocation proposed in the Budget 2020.
In another development, she said Japan and South Korea have expressed interest in importing Malaysian palm oil which is produced sustainably under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification.
She said the government strives to achieve the target of 100% MSPO certified oil palm estates across Malaysia by the end of next year by doubling its efforts to enlighten estate operators on its importance.
“So far, 55% of the total oil palm area in the country is already certified under the MSPO and I expect that by the end of this month it will reach 60%, ” she said.
The government introduced the MSPO certification in 2015 to ensure that planters and smallholders comply with the requirements set out to produce sustainable palm oil by practising environmental awareness.
While Malaysia is making forays into new markets for palm oil, Kok said it does not forget the key markets in Europe.
“Europe is Malaysia’s second largest palm oil market, and it always set standards for other countries to follow, especially in relation to the environment, which will eventually become the global standard, ” she said. — Bernama
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