The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) comments on the recent advancement of the European Union’s Food Information to Consumers Regulation that will bring about new procedures for nutritional information for consumers. Throughout this process, the Malaysian palm oil industry has directly engaged with European policymakers, industry and other stakeholders to share important information and facts about our industry and its importance to both the Malaysian economy and to European food manufacturing. It is estimated that as much as 40 per cent of bestselling grocery brands contain palm oil, demonstrating the ubiquity of the ingredient and its importance to food processors and retailers.
While efforts to single out palm oil in the labeling regulation were excluded, the decision to label the origin of all vegetable oils was based on erroneous environmental campaigns about palm oil and demonstrates the level of misinformation about palm oil that continues to be advanced by a small but vocal minority of voices and organizations in Europe today. As with other efforts by these voices to see the inclusion of additional sustainability criteria in Europe’s biofuels policies and government and business procurement rules, we remain concerned with the compatibility of the rules with international trade norms. These efforts raise considerable questions about free trade, market access and fair competition and have implications for a Malaysia – EU Free Trade Agreement .
The Malaysian Palm Oil Council will continue in its efforts to educate European policymakers on the facts of palm oil. Palm oil is the world’s most sustainable vegetable oil providing a critical source of oils and fats for the European market, with 5.8 million tonnes imported in 2010 – more than 2 million tonnes from Malaysia alone. The industry is the most significant contributor to Malaysia’s GDP, accounting for seven and a half per cent of Malaysia’s GDP in 2010. And the industry employs more than 570,000 people directly, of which thirty nine per cent are local small farmers. The palm oil industry plays a direct role in supporting Malaysia’s protection of the country’s biodiversity conserving more than 50 per cent of the nation’s land under forests, as pledged at the UN’s 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The oil palm produces more oil per hectare of land, requires less fertilizer, generates 10 times more energy than it utilizes and also sequesters more carbon than competitor vegetable oil crops. Meanwhile, the industry is a significant contributor to conservation efforts, funding the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF) and establishing wildlife preserves such as a mega-sanctuary in Sabah.