By Nurul Hanis Izmir
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 (NNN-Bernama) — The Balkan countries will be using Turkey as the gateway to import Malaysian palm oil, leveraging on Malaysia-Turkey free trade agreement (MTFTA) and close the gap through import duty advantage rendered by Turkey to the country’s palm oil, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) said.
Its Istanbul-based marketing executive Hakan Alkan said, during the pandemic period, freight cost had increased drastically by some 300 per cent, causing industrial players to purchase the vegetable oil from Europe rather than buying directly from Malaysia.
“Besides using Turkey as its gateway, the Balkan region also imports palm oil from other countries such as the Netherlands (Rotterdam), Germany, and İtaly,” he told Bernama.
Hakan added that the Malaysian palm oil exports to the Balkan countries would continue to be high as most of the countries are fully open for business.
Their per capita consumption of palm oil is gradually increasing, rising to 20.6 kilogrammes (kg) in 2020 from 19.5kg in 2009, thanks to the increase in per capita income and urbanisation.
Palm oil is mostly used by food industry as fats to make confectionery and margarine, he said.
He shared that sunflower oil is the most produced commodity among other vegetable oils within the region, however, the palm oil price is more competitive as compared to sunflower oil.
The Balkan region produced several vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, olive oil, and rapeseed oil.
In 2020, the production of sunflower oil amounted to 1.5 million tonnes, olive oil 310,000 tonnes, and rapeseed 224,400 tonnes.
The region also exported 977,800 tonnes of sunflower oil last year.
Meanwhile, the region’s total import of oils and fats last year stood at 985,200 tonnes with palm oil being the second-highest imported oil at 234,900 tonnes.
According to data by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, in 2020, the total direct export of palm products from Malaysia to the Balkan region was 104,685 tonnes, up by 6.4 per cent from 98,345 tonnes in 2019.
“We understand that due to COVID-19, the commodity prices have increased, and for palm oil, its price has doubled from last year. This is also due to the shortage of labour which led to lower production,” he said.
Hakan predicts that the uptrend in palm oil price would continue until March 2022.
Asked about the challenges in promoting palm oil in the Balkan countries, he said there are anti-palm oil campaigns by non-governmental organisations which are influencing the consumers’ perception.
To address this, he said the MPOC has come up with digital palm oil information network wherein it monitors and update the regional website as well as all mediums of social media networking including Facebook and Twitter.
“These are updated either on a daily or weekly basis with news, latest developments on Malaysian palm oil industry, and our upcoming and current programmes and activities.”