Cartoon ape strikes fear into Malaysian palm growers,FT.com,19.4.25

Firms bet sustainable palm oil production can head off growing consumer backlash

In banning Rang-tan from British television screens over Christmas 2018, Clearcast helped raise public consciousness about the controversies surrounding the production of palm oil. The cartoon primate is the star of a campaign by supermarket chain Iceland, including the banned advert, which was named the most effective of the holiday period after garnering tens of millions of online views. Rang-tan encapsulates a growing worry among Malaysia’s palm oil producers that developed country consumers will eventually shun the many products containing the oil, including brands of chocolate, soap and cosmetics.

Attention has already been focused by a move in Europe to start phasing out the use of palm oil in biofuels from 2023. Executives say this has driven home the need to push sustainable production, even as the industry reels in the face of oversupply and low prices. “We need to be wary of the long-term consequences of the relentless negative sentiment against palm oil from the EU,” Mohd Bakke Salleh, executive deputy chairman of Sime Darby Plantation (SDP), the world’s biggest producer by planted area, told scoutAsia Research.

“We believe this is one of the biggest challenges the industry is facing now.”

The palm oil industry is a major foreign exchange earner for Malaysia, accounting for 6.8 per cent of its total exports and 5 per cent of its GDP last year. The country is the world’s second-largest palm oil producer after Indonesia, accounting for 27 per cent of global output.

But the industry is coming out of a miserable 2018, which saw global crude palm oil prices slump 16.4 per cent to $598 a tonne, their lowest level since 2006. Export revenues from palm oil and palm-related products fell 13.3 per cent to Rm67.5bn ($16.4bn).----------









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