Palm-oil producers on EU charm offensive 

Palm-oil producers on EU charm offensive 

Malaysia has a delegation in Europe to convince the European Commission of the sustainability of its palm-oil exports. It has also agreed to nominate specialists to sit on an EU group to assess the role of the controversial product as a biofuel in the bloc. 

Malaysian primary industries minister Teresa Kok said consultation with the EU on indirect change of land use might prevent palm oil from being discriminated against. 

She is leading a palm-oil mission in Switzerland, Spain and Belgium along with representatives from the sector, which is vital to the Malaysian economy, and held meetings with the European environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella. 

The Elaeis guineensis tree only grows in the equatorial regions, with Malaysia and Indonesia accounting for almost 85 per cent of global palm-oil supplies.

While in Madrid, Kok met Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita to discuss palm-oil exports to Europe with both countries agreeing that “no palm oil” labels on EU products and other campaigns were discriminatory. 

There is an 85-per-cent loss of biodiversity in an ecosystem when palm-oil plantations are created from the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Orangutans, tigers, rhinos (pictured) and elephants are losing their habitats and becoming increasingly endangered or extinct.

“An expert panel from the European Commission will be visiting Malaysia at the end of this month to hold discussions with Malaysian experts on these issues. Our experts will sit in the panel,” Kok told the media. 

She said it was vital for Brussels to understand Malaysian palm-oil cultivation and processing practices so it appreciated efforts to produce sustainable palm oil.

Nestlé openness 

Under pressure to prove its environmental standards, Nestlé said it was opting for transparency and planned to make satellite monitoring data, including evidence of deforestation, available online next year. 

The Swiss-based giant said it used Starling satellite monitoring to observe its palm-oil suppliers and address deforestation linked to their operations. From March, the suppliers’ compliance with Nestlé’s no-deforestation policy would be available on its website, it said.

“Our motto is to have a dialogue first with the aim to convince our suppliers to improve. At the same time, if they say ‘no’ we will blacklist them,” said Benjamin Ware, Nestlé’s responsibility chief. 

Nestlé, the world’s largest food producer, said it identified and blacklisted 10 of its palm suppliers this June who were removed from its supply chain last month: DTK Opportunity, Korindo Group, Indonusa, Olmeca REPSA, Pacific Inter-link HSA, PTT Green, Salim Group/Indofood, Noble, Posco Daewoo and Cilandri Anky Abadi. 

Starling’s high-resolution radar and optical satellite imagery were used to detect forest cover loss of up to 1 hectare, Nestlé claimed. 


The Sumatran rhino faces extinction in the wild. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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