The Oil Palm held exclusive interviews with the three lucky French consumers who recently won the trip of a lifetime to Malaysia. Mimoun Zeghdad, Patrick Lombard and Stephane Levy were invited to talk about their participation in the competition and why palm oil is important to them as French consumers.
Mimoun Zeghdad, from Hérault in southern France, told The Oil Palm that palm oil was as important to Malaysian small farmers as cheese and wine were to French farmers. He said he could not wait to get to know Malaysian small farmers and to learn about the role of oil palm cultivation in their daily lives. When asked about the image of palm oil in France, Mr Zeghdad explained that people had been provided with negative information and that they needed to be better informed. Mr Zeghdad said that he had always wanted to visit Malaysia and that he would invite his brother to experience this adventure with him.
Stephane Levy, from Cernay in eastern France, discussed his competition entry, which highlighted palm oil’s central role in our everyday lives. Turning to the debate on palm oil in France, Mr Levy said that consumers were misinformed about palm oil and welcomed the opportunity to visit Malaysia and see what was the reality on the ground. Mr Levy said that he could not wait to meet the small farmers, see the orang utans and discover all the fauna and flora Malaysia had to offer.
Patrick Lombard, from Beaufort-sur-Duron, in south-east France, said that his entry was structured as a recipe to give it a more humorous tone and to showcase the social, environmental and health attributes of palm oil. Mr Lombard pointed out that in Europe, consumers have difficulty understanding palm oil because it is a foreign product. Yet, the industry provides employment for more than 600,000 people in Malaysia and accounts for around 10 per cent of the country’s GDP. In his interview, Patrick also discusses the misunderstanding regarding palm oil in France, which, in his view, results from negative messaging transmitted by the media. Mr Lombard said he could not wait to travel to Malaysia and get to know the local people, culture and agriculture!