Archive for May 2009

Red palm oil for healthy hair

Forget hair revitalising shampoos. Proper nutrition is the most effective way to grow a headful of lustrous hair!

Your hair receives nutrition from the bloodstream through the papilla. If you fast unnecessarily or go on a crash diet without the doctor's supervision, you might end up losing your crown of glory instead.

Water: Water makes up 25% of the weight of a strand of hair. So drink up!! Water hydrates your body and helps keep your hair silky and shiny. Ideally, you should drink 8 glasses of water a day.

Protein: Protein is the building block of hair. A protein rich diet reduces the likelihood of hair splits. Eat moderate amount of fish, meat, milk, cheese and cereals.

Minerals: Iron helps to carry oxygen to the hair. If there is too little iron in your blood, oxygen-starved hair follicles will just fall off. So, don't skim on red meat and dark green vegetables. Zinc, found abundantly in seafoods, builds hair protein and helps prevent hair loss. Copper colours our hair naturally, so, help youself to a generous serving of shellfish, liver, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds and meat.

Vitamins: Fat soluble vitamins A & E are essential to nourishing the hair roots and a healthy scalp! Red palm oil, packed with anti-oxidants, is the richest food source of carotenes and tocotrienols.

Healthy revenue to come from palm oil supplements

Palm oil health supplement, the most valuable product along the supply chain, is set to be another big foreign revenue earner for Malaysia.

Last year, Malaysia exported some RM50 million worth of palm oil health supplements, mainly to Europe, the US, Canada and Japan. Scientific studies conducted by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) show that palm oil health supplements can help lower the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Tocotrienol, the potent vitamin E found abundantly in palm oil, can improve blood flow and boost cell regeneration. "Although we're the biggest tocotrienol producer and exporter in the world, we need to invest more in scientific studies to give more evidence of the health benefits of palm oil vitamins A and E. So far, the government, via MPOB, has invested RM20 million to research the nutritional and anti-ageing benefits of palm oil phytonutrients.

"At the same time, we need to step up public awareness of the advantage of palm oil health supplements over imported ones like fish oil and evening primrose," Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainudin said.

Palm oil, packed with phytonutrients like carotene, tocotrienol, lycopene, co-enzyme Q10, and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, can meet the 'beauty from within' trend in the multi-billion-ringgit business of health supplements and skincare products.

To raise public awareness, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council initiated the Palm International Nutra-Cosmeceutical Conference (PINC) 2009. Hamzah officiated at the opening of the first edition of the PINC series in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Among the exhibitors are Carotech Bhd, Davos Life Science Pte Ltd, Carotino Sdn Bhd and Liasari Sdn Bhd.

In view of the current high crude palm oil prices, Hamzah was asked if the government would consider lowering the biodiesel blend mandate of B5. "We continue to encourage biodiesel usage. Malaysia is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and this policy reflects our commitment to using cleaner burning fuel which is environment-friendly," he said.

Hamzah also urged biodiesel producers to integrate their production with palm oil health supplements. "Returns from the health supplement business can cross-subsidise that of biodiesel in risky times. This is a better business model," he said.

Salad dressing .. how about Carotino?

In Japan, many health conscious young adults choose to have salad and fruits in their meals. Below is a quick guide to make Carotino salad dressing.

Ingredients: (1 serving)
150ml (or 1/4 pt)
Carotino red palm oil
balsamic vinegar/ lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
ground 1 leaf fresh basil
chopped lemon zest

1. Whisk Carotino red palm oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, black pepper and chopped fresh basil together in a mixing bowl, until well blended.
2. Let the dressing rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
3. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Malaysia benefits from this trend because Carotino red palm oil is increasingly being offered as one of the range of salad dressing that is heart healthy and yet, tasty.

Carotino salad dressing is naturally high in anti-oxidant pro-Vitamin A (alpha and beta carotene) Vitamin E and lycopene. Anti-oxidants fight cell damage caused by ‘free radicals’ (toxins) in the body and are essential for a healthy immune system. Medical research has highlighted the vital role anti-oxidants play in fighting heart disease, strokes and cancer.

Carotino red palm oil is also a good, natural source of Co-enzyme Q10, which helps boost energy and maintain vitality, plus Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. These essential ‘long chain’ fatty acids are important for regularised cell regeneration.

Everyone needs these essential fatty acids, but they cannot be manufactured by the body and must be supplied by food enriched with the right amount of vegetable oils.

Perhaps this healthy trend in Japan may convince restaurateurs in Malaysia to consider offering Carotino salad dressing alongside olive oil, sour cream and thousand island.

Mothers love Carotino curry rice

Johor-based red palm oil producer Carotino Sdn Bhd was exhibiting at the Malaysia-Japan Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar in Tokyo. Executive director U.R. Unnithan said red palm olein and margarine is gaining popularity in Japan.

Hideaki Sasaki, president of Yehna Corp Ltd, who was also present, said that demand in the first half of this year had risen 20 per cent from previously. The exclusive distributor for Carotino red palm oil in Japan said it will increase its orders by another 10 containers from Malaysia this year.

"Cake, bread and pastry bakers are now more aware of the health benefits of red palm margarine as a natural colourant fortified with antioxidants," Sasaki said. "The baumkuchen community here like Carotino red palm margarine because the natural fruit oil colour enhances the golden rings," he added. 'Baumkuchen', a kind of German pastry, is a favoured wedding cake in Japan. It is believed the golden rings in the cake signifies longevity and prosperity.

Sasaki then said many children vote 'curry rice' (or kareh raisu) as one of their favourite dish. "Mothers love Carotino red palm oil because of the natural attractive colour and high nutrition value," he said.

Apparently, curry rice is an easy-to-cook and well-balanced meal. It is popular among children and is so widely consumed that it can be called a national dish in Japan.

No more soggy tempura with palm oil blend

In Malaysia, Japanese restaurants use palm olein to fry tempura because it can withstand extreme deepfry heat and sets quickly on cooling. That is how you get a crispy tempura. Palm olein is also a favourite frying medium because its natural antioxidants — vitamin A and E — protects against off-flavours.

In Japan, many households still use softoils like soya, canola, sunflower and cottonseed oil. As a result these softoils leach out of the tempura. Other than an oily mess, the tempura smell and taste bad because softoils oxidise easily in extreme deepfry heat.

To overcome this 'greasy' and off-flavour problem, restaurant chefs fry tempura in solid fats like lard, tallow or palm olein. Since there is not enough supply of animal fats, restaurateurs in Japan are increasingly using palm olein to fry tempura.

At the Malaysia-Japan Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar in Tokyo yesterday, Nisshin OilliO introduced its latest healthy frying oil called "VegeFruit Oil" containing a 40 per cent palm oil blend that promises crispier tempura.

Many Japanese families pack lunch for children and by afternoon, tempura fried in pure softoils like soya, canola or cottonseed, tend to become greasy and soggy. Kaori Nakajima said her company's "VegeFruit Oil" solves that problem. "Now, consumers can enjoy longer-lasting crispy tempura packed with Vitamins A & E."

Later that day, Kaori's colleagues Dr Tan Boon Keng, Chong Mun Yee and Hideaki Maki invited MPOB scientist Dr Ooi Cheng Kiat and myself to a walking tour of tempura restaurants neighbouring the New Otani Hotel in Tokyo.

As we approached Tenya Tempura, Dr Tan smiled and indicated that the Nisshin OilliO group is supplying palm cooking oil to the restaurant chain.

Mmmm... crispy tempura!

Msia woos Japan to use palm biodiesel in buses

I read Palm Oil Insider's comment before attending a press conference in Tokyo. I think the minister must be telephatic. In his welcoming greetings to the Japanese media, he spoke on the benefits of Japan's public buses using cleaner and renewable fuel like palm biodiesel, instead of regular fossil fuel.

TOKYO: Japan should consider using more palm biodiesel for its transportation sector because it is a clean and competitively-priced option compared to other variants, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said.

The Tokyo Metropolitan government is already undertaking trial usage of palm biodiesel in its fleet of public buses, he said. "We're all familiar with the food versus fuel debate and there have been calls for a total ban on usage of vegetable oils for biofuels to ensure food security.

"I can assure you that the Malaysian government prioritises palm oil for food sector," Dompok told reporters after officiating at the Malaysia-Japan Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar here yesterday.

Asked if there was enough world supply of palm oil, he said that Malaysia and Indonesia each limits six million tonnes of palm oil a year for biofuel production. "Food will always be more important than fuel and there is enough oil for both usage," he said.

Dompok said palm biodiesel is greener than other sources of biofuel because its life cycle analysis of greenhouse gas emission savings exceeds the 35 per cent threshold set by the European Union's renewable energy directive.

He also assured Japanese consumers that oil palm is cultivated on legal agricultural land in Malaysia and adopts good practices such as "zero burning", integrated pest management and the trapping and recycling of polluting methane gas.

"Since November 2008, Malaysia has started exporting RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil)-certified palm oil. There are now five supplying companies and, by the end of next month, another 300,000ha of oil palm plantations will be certified," Dompok said.

"The Malaysian government has allocated RM50 million to help smallholders get their oil certified according to RSPO principles and criteria. It is important that smallholders are included because, collectively, more than 300,000 smallholders contribute to 40 per cent of our country's palm oil output."

The RSPO is a not-for-profit association that unites stakeholders in the global palm oil industry.

Currently, Japan buys about 500,000 tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia annually, the bulk of which is used as food ingredients. Its main uses are in making margarine and shortening and for deep-frying instant noodles, tempura and snack foods.

Also present at the press conference were Malaysia's Ambassador to Japan Dato' Mohd Radzi Abdul Rahman, Malaysian Palm Oil Council chairman Datuk Lee Yeow Chor and chief executive Tan Sri Yusof Basiron and Malaysian Palm Oil Board director-general Datuk Dr Basri Wahid.

Malaysia looks East for more palm oil partnerships

MALAYSIA is looking to the East to woo more strategic partnerships with Japanese confectionery and snacks companies to boost palm oil trade.

Currently, Japan buys about 500,000 tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia annually.

Its principal uses are in making margarine and shortening and for deep-frying instant noodles, tempura and snack foods.

"I would like to see more strategic partnerships to boost palm oil shipments to Japan," said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, who will be leading a 30-member delegation to Tokyo for two days from today to participate in the Malaysia-Japan Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar (POTS).

This is the tenth edition of the POTS series organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council to generate greater global recognition of the nutritional benefits and eco-friendly features of palm oil.

Among topics to be discussed at the seminar are the versatility of palm oil. The palm fruit oil is suitable for tempura frying while the kernel oil can be made into biodegradable detergent.

Palm biodiesel is increasingly seen as a cleaner fuel because of its lower greenhouse gas emission compared to other variants.

The Japanese are big investors in Malaysia's skin and hair care, laundry detergent and specialty fats industries. Among the big names are Kao, Lion and Nisshin OilliO.

"We're heartened by Japan's oleochemical and specialty fats investments in Malaysia. We welcome more value-adding investments from Japan's snacks and confectionery business community," Dompok told Business Times in an interview in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend.

Windfall tax on CPO stays

Ever wonder how is the government going to find the money to fund the RM67 billion stimulus plan so that we can spend our way out of an economic recession?

Apart from the issuance of the RM10 billion 'Sukuk Simpanan Rakyat' and oil royalty from Petronas, the government will also collect money from oil palm estate owners. Ten years ago, windfall tax paid by oil palm planters helped our economy ride out the Asian Financial Crises.

This proves that, in times of need, oil palm planters are, indeed, a dependable lot.

The oil palm industry is increasingly becoming a significant foreign earnings contributor. Last year, the RM65 billion palm oil shipments made up 9 per cent of the nation's total exports.

More importantly, this industry is providing jobs to more than 500,000 people in the estates and livelihood to an estimated one million people. Apart from government-linked companies and private estates, there are close to 300,000 smallholders whose daily income is reliant on the rise and rise of international palm oil prices.

THE government, yesterday, shot down appeals to abolish windfall tax on crude palm oil (CPO) put forward by the Malaysian Estate Owners Association.

"I believe the average production cost is around RM1,600 per tonne. At the current crude palm oil pricing of RM2,600 per tonne, there is still quite a bit of margin for planters," Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told reporters after witnessing Sime Darby's achievement in oil palm genomics research.

The Finance Ministry will start collecting windfall tax next month from estates in Peninsular Malaysia as soon as CPO averages above RM2,500 per tonne this month.

The Malaysian Estate Owners Association had recently appealed for the government to revoke the tax as it is seen as a deterrent for new investments.

In Sabah and Sarawak, the threshold level is RM3,000. Previously, it was RM2,000 for the whole country.

It is estimated that the government has collected some RM400 million since the tax was introduced in July 2008. In the three months to September, oil palm estate owners in the peninsula paid 15 per cent tax while those in Sabah and Sarawak paid 7.5 per cent. Subsequently, from October last year to now, palm oil prices have been rising. Since it was trading below the threshold levels, the windfall tax was not applicable.

This month, however, palm oil futures had started to trade above RM2,500 per tonne.

Palm oil in prayers

Wesak Day is a time of charity for Buddhist devotees - regardless the amount of their take-home pay.

In Malaysia, Wesak is an annual national holiday since 1962.

At Chetawan Temple in Petaling Jaya, throngs of devotees come in through the high gates to donate money and seek enlightenment from Buddha's teachings.

Some drive up in big and expensive cars while others come in motorcycles. Mostly, just walk in.

In the midst of pre-recorded sanskrit chantings (suttas) of 'the middle path' blaring out of loudspeakers, devotees silently give thanks and pray for peace in the presence of orange-robed monks.

They light up oil lamps (fueled by palm cooking oil) as a symbolic gesture of seeking enlightenment to overcome the darkness of ignorance.