James Fry: Impossible for EU to Prohibit Use of Palm Oil

News 27, Apr 2018

James Fry: Impossible for EU to Prohibit Use of Palm Oil

BALI – The EU is unlikely to ban the use of palm oil, especially for food products, because the of the difficulty in sourcing a suitable alternative of a similar large volume of supply in a short time. This was explained by Chairman of LMC International, James Fry, in a press conference during ICOPE 2018.

“If people see the current reality, I believe it is impossible for Europe to easily replace palm oil,” James said.

According to him, in the current report of the European Commission there are also some discussions and disagreements. “If Europe banned all palm oil, which is about 6-7 million tonnes volume, the next question would be, what would replace it?” He asked.

Fry explained that the vegetable oil most similar to palm oil in properties, and hence most likely alternative would be soybean. “But soybean is also problematic. European consumers will not consume soybean which has been genetically modified (GM). GM products have a special label, and supermarkets do not like this label,” he explained. There are many palm kernel oil-based food products. If they are replaced with soybean, there is likely to be greater resentment among NGOs in Europe.

Besides soybean, another alternative is rapeseed oil. Europe produces rapeseed oil, but not enough to replace the volume of palm oil. Also, they carry a similar GM risk. So it is not logical to import rapeseed oil or an equivalent such as canola oil from Canada and Australia unless Europe dares to be a big buyer of alternative oils and pushes up oil prices of GM crops.

“But I’m sure consumers in Europe will not be happy, if suddenly all the food products that they consume contain genetic modifications,” he explained.

Eddy Esselink, from the European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA), also believes that it is illogical and impossible to replace palm oil with other vegetable oils. “The use of palm oil is very widespread in the products consumed by the European community. It’s impossible to replace it abruptly,” he explained.

According to Esselink, EPOA was formed in 2013 to break the negative stigma about palm oil. “EPOA’s commitment is to achieve sustainable palm oil in Europe by providing initiatives across the continent,” Esselink said.

He also called out the need for the general public to understand the full story of the development of palm. According to him, the needs for vegetable oil will increase along with the population growth in the world. Therefore, the sustainability of the palm sector needs to be maintained, and there is a series of key ideas driving this.

They are 1) responsibility of maintaining the supply chain, 2) collaboration, and 3) ensuring the effectiveness of the impact of sustainability. Of all the key ideas he explained, the MVO Sustainable Development Manager Program emphasised collaboration. “Positive results can be achieved especially through collaboration within the supply chain,” he explained. All initiatives launched by stakeholders in Europe are also in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). (*)