Palm oil product exports to EU to rise despite 'negative campaign'


Despite an extensive "negative campaign" about Indonesian palm oil products and falling exports to most countries worldwide, exports to the European Union increased by 3 percent to 4.4 million tons in 2016, up from 4.2 million tons in 2015, as the commodities are much needed in the EU food industry.

"EU governments continue to claim that palm oil is bad for health, but the demand keeps increasing every year," said Togar Sitanggang, secretary-general of the Indonesian Association of Palm Oil Producers (GAPKI) during a media briefing on Tuesday.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said palm oil contains more carcinogenic contaminants than other vegetable oils, although it did not recommend consumers to stop eating it. The EFSA said that further study was needed to assess the level of risk.

Meanwhile, some countries in the EU apply “Palm Oil Free” labeling policies that hurt the product’s image and a recent Amnesty International report said global palm oil brands benefited from forced child labor.

However, Togar said such reports have not effected exports as, “Apparently the EU food industry needs the oil.” Italian confectionery firm Ferrero, for example, has launched an advertising campaign to assure the public about the safety of its Nutella spread, which is made using palm oil.

The association said it expects the export of oil palm products to the EU to remain at about the same level this year because of more domestic use.

Indonesia exported 26.48 million tons of palm oil products last year, a 5 percent decrease from the 25.1 million tons in 2015.


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