Anti palm oil global campaign related to health is actually just a camouflage of the European Union (EU) strategy to strengthen the absorption of it’s products on the global market. Prof. Pietro Paganini from John Cabot University of Rome was stated at the 2019 Indonesian Palm Oil Conference (IPOC) and 2020 Price Outlook in Nusa Dua, Bali, Thursday (10/31/2019).
“Anti palm oil campaign is a protectionist attitude adopted by the European Union, especially to support theirs farmers,” said Paganini.
According to him, there are various campaigns carried out to damage the reputation of palm oil in order to strengthen the global vegetable oil market, one of which is labeling palm oil free. This campaign is more likely to be used to influence the public’s negative perceptions of oil palm about health.
Paganini reminded the public to be aware that this activity was part of a black campaign of vegetable oil producers which was competed with palm oil. “Unfortunately, the campaign was also ridden by other parties such as food industry actors, NGOs, and political groups in palm oil producing countries,” he said.
Anti palm oil campaign is considered successful because it can reduce palm oil imports in several major EU countries. Two of them are France and Germany. The increase in imports of palm oil products only occurs in Spain, while Italian demand tends to stagnate.
In general the trend of negative views on palm oil in the European Union is increasing. “Often found publications that state oil palm is the main enemy of health,” he said.
The success of the anti palm oil campaign is because many countries in Europe pay more attention to health issues than to deforestation. “This factor causes a decline in demand for palm oil up to 3.6 percent per year. Though the results of the study show that saturated fats derived from oil palm are no different compared to other vegetable sources,” said Paganini.
He said, food and beverage products made without palm oil actually did not guarantee a better taste. The effort also did not increase consumer preferences to buy.
“Glycerol is not only derived from palm oil, but also other vegetable oils. Studies show that avoiding health risks by using glycerol derived from non palm oil, it has the potential to cause other health risks,” he explained.
Paganini said NGOs demands to abandon the use of palm oil would only increase environmental damage. The reason is, several other types of vegetable oil commodities actually require much more extensive land and excessive use of chemical fertilizers.
“This condition is at risk of decreasing global forest area which is increasing,” he added.