The apex edible oil industry associations from five major palm oil importing countries in Asia have come together for the first time to form an alliance — Asian Palm Oil Alliance (APOA).
The alliance commits to work worldwide to ensure that palm oil is recognised as a high-quality, economical, and healthy vegetable oil and to change the negative image of palm oil, a statement by India’s edible oil industry body The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India said on Thursday. The alliance is between industry bodies of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.
In the coming year, the membership would be further expanded to include other select companies or industry organisations operating in the production or refining of palm oil across the continent.
The statement said that the secretariat of the newly-formed alliance would initially be managed by The Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India.
In the first general body meeting of the Alliance, Atul Chaturvedi, the President of SEA, was elected as the first Chairman.
During the event, the website and logo of the Alliance were also launched in the presence of presence Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary of the Union food ministry.
“The need for Asian palm oil consuming countries was felt for a long time. The formation of APOA empowers several Asian countries for whom palm oil is a source of affordable food and nutrition,” the Chairman-elect said at the meeting.
“The Alliance is expected to safeguard the economic and business interests of the palmoil consuming countries and create a level playing field for all fats and oils used in food, feed and oleochemicals in Asia. It will further work towards increasing the consumption of sustainable palm oil in member countries,” Chaturvedi added.
The next meeting of APOA is expected to be held in Indonesia early next year, the statement added.
Further, speaking at the same event, B.V. Mehta, Executive Director, SEA, highlighted that together Asian markets are responsible for about 40 per cent of global palm oil demand. India is the largest importer of palm oil in the Asian region and accounts for 15 per cent of global imports.
“However, the industry associations of Asian palm-oil importing countries, unlike their counterparts in the EU, are not involved in shaping the global discourse on sustainable palm oil in a collective way. Asian stakeholders over the last two decades were instead forced to follow sustainability standards that don’t reflect the Asian market realities. The launch of APOA is expected to bridge this gap and will help in developing a shared, collective, coordinated and coherent position of the Asian palm oil industry stakeholders,” Mehta said.
China with 9 per cent, Pakistan with 4 per cent and Bangladesh with 2 per cent of the global imports are the other significant countries with a stake in palm oil production and trade.
On the other hand, Europe accounts for about 12 per cent of the market, and the US 2 per cent.
“This would foster Asia’s position as a sustainability leader. We are pleased to have the opportunity to support this initiative and look forward to achieving many milestones together,” said Kazi Salahuddin Ahammad of Bangladesh Vegetable Oil Refiners and Vanaspati Manufacturers Association.
According to Rohan Fernando, President, Palm Oil Industry Association Sri Lanka: “The role of APOA is crucial in the facilitation of collective and coordinated efforts of both Asian palm oil-producer countries and Palm oil-consuming countries for sustainable palm oil. It will strengthen Asia’s role in palm oil sustainability disclosure.”
Also, the five-country Alliance members separately held a meeting with the 10-member delegation from the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs and Indonesia, the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) and the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) Secretariat to explore joint research to scientifically demonstrate the health benefits of palm oil and also launch joint consumer campaigns in Asian markets.