KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — Iceland supermarket’s recent decision to reverse its ban on palm oil and return to the crop despite its skepticism over sustainable palm oil proved its importance in fulfilling the demand-supply gap of global oils and fats, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) said.
Palm oil has also proven its versatility and functionality as an ingredient for the food sector.
“In fact, Iceland managing director Richard Walker admitted that there is no other suitable alternative for the currently used sunflower oil except for palm oil for the formulation of certain recipes for processing properties or taste,” MPOB director-general (DG) Datuk Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir told Bernama.
Yesterday, a United Kingdom broadsheet Daily Telegraph reported that the supermarket company Iceland Foods Ltd had been forced to reverse a ban on palm oil amid an acute shortage of sunflower oil.
Walker had reportedly expressed “huge regret” about having to row back on its pledge to remove palm oil from all of its own-brand items.
“The only alternative to using palm oil under the current circumstances would simply be to clear out our freezers and shelves of a wide range of staples including potato products.
“The move was a last resort and strictly a temporary measure and we will only use certified sustainable palm oil as an ingredient,” he was quoted by the Telegraph.
In 2018, Iceland supermarket pledged to remove palm oil from all its own-brand foods due to the allegation that palm oil is one of the major drivers of deforestation.
However, it was then found that Iceland has missed its own deadline for removing palm oil from its own-brand products by the end of 2018, and took its name off the packaging of some lines instead to allow more time to reformulate them.
Explaining further, Ahmad Parveez said if Iceland is genuinely promoting environmental sustainability, the supermarket chain should advocate the use of sustainable certified palm oil rather than ban palm oil from all its own-brand foods because it does not solve the issue.
“The fact that the Iceland supermarket’s 2018 negative campaign on palm oil was pulled from television advertisement after it was deemed as “too political” proved that the ban on palm oil is only a marketing strategy and “gimmick” designed to mislead and deceive consumers by using the unfavourable perceptions towards palm oil,” Ahmad Parveez stressed.
He said Malaysia, being the second-largest producer and exporter of palm oil, is putting serious efforts into ensuring that it is providing the world with the goodness of its palm oil without compromising the environment.
Meanwhile, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin today said Malaysia is prepared to assist the United Kingdom (UK) and Europe over their impending edible seed oil supply crisis.
“We are deeply concerned over the state in the UK and Europe following the current situation between Russia and Ukraine.
“And therefore, should the UK and other European nations need our assistance, we are ready to assist with supplying edible palm oil or cooking oil for their domestic and manufacturing needs,” she said in a statement.
Zuraida said Malaysian palm oil sustainability fully adheres to the Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council, which is based on the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil standards and consistent with the international Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil requirements.
The minister said Malaysia has had a long battle against Western anti-palm oil propaganda, and it is time to put the situation to rest.
Echoing the minister, the MPOB DG said he too is hoping that this is the end of palm oil discrimination by the EU. — Bernama