Posts tagged palm oil

Malaysian palm oil exports on track for record year

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Malaysian palm oil exports may set a new record this year, having reached RM30.49 billion (US$10 billion) in the first five months of 2011 on the back of increased demand and higher prices. The all-time record was in 2008, when exports hit RM65 billion ($21.4 billion) and last year’s total was RM62.8 billion ($20.68 billion).

While crude palm oil futures have risen from RM2,700 ($891) per tonne in 2010 to RM3,300 ($1089) today, Malaysia’s output has declined slightly in recent years as Indonesia’s increased. According to this report, shortage of foreign labour availability is one explanation, and Malaysian palm seed producers have complained about excess regulation and quarantine controls on palm planting materials due to the threat of¬†coconut cadang-cadang viroid (CCCVd) disease.

The Department of Agriculture has, however, agreed to lift its restrictions after a series of talks arranged by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB). ¬†Indonesia has increased export duties in an attempt to attract investment to downstream activities. These factors, plus bumper harvests in areas like Sarawak this year, should see Malaysian exports push past 2008′s record if output continues at its current rate.

source & article: Business Times

Sime Darby to open large palm oil plantation in Africa

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Sime Darby, the Malaysian palm oil giant which already operates across Malaysia and Indonesia, will move into Africa with a RM70 million (US$23 million) new plantation in Libera, starting April.

The company is the world’s largest palm oil producer and has Malaysia’s second largest market cap at RM47 billion ($15.4 billion). Its 63 year concession in Liberia, if developed fully, would result in a total 220,000 hectares (2,200 sq km) of new plantations, a huge addition to the 5,000 sq km of plantations Sime Darby already operates in Malaysia and Indonesia. The first stage of the Liberian project will be 10,000 hectares.

Malaysia and Indonesia together make up 85% of the world’s palm oil production, with their produce used globally in processed foods, toiletries and biofuels. The industry on the whole, however, has suffered an image problem in recent years with environmental groups claiming it destroys the habitat of endangered species such as orang utans by clearing forests for new plantations. Companies have repeatedly disputed the claims and Sime Darby says it is committed to responsible development, claiming its operation in Africa will allow it to introduce its industry best practices to a new region.

source & article: Channel NewsAsia

Palm oil stakeholders meet to discuss environmental standards

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Palm oil, a major export industry in both Malaysia and Indonesia, is attempting to combat its environmental image problems with discussions in Jakarta this week. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) brings together the various stakeholders and would like to establish a certification system for the smallholders who collectively produce a third of the world’s 45 million palm oil output, though the interests of planters, buyers, financiers and environmental groups may diverge too far to reach any agreement.

Negative environmental practices centered around rainforest clearing have seen the palm oil industry routinely targeted by environmentalists’ campaigns: clearing the required land not only destroys sensitive ecosystems including the habitat of several endangered species, the draining of peatland under the forests releases copious amounts of greenhouse gases.

A certification system has been in place since 2008, though only plantations with connections to larger or state-run companies have been able to afford compliance, leaving smaller independents on the fringe. There is also some confusion as to what the regulations actually are. The RSPO is considering setting up a fund to assist smallgrowers and Norway has set up a $1 billion climate aid program for Indonesia which includes provisions for rewarding forest protection.

Although meetings are a positive step to solving palm oil’s problems, there is still considerable bitterness between producers and environmental groups such as Greenpeace, whose anti-palm oil campaigns have caused consumer backlashes against the industry.

articles: Reuters via Yahoo! (article #1, article #2)

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