Palm oil exports to Manila set to go up

This is written by my colleague Roziana Hamsawi.

MANILA: Malaysian palm oil exports to the Philippines have been growing at a steady rate of 10 per cent annually in the last decade. They are set to expand even more in the years to come, a trend which offers tremendous business opportunities for industry players.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said with rising economic prosperity and improved living standards among the Filipinos, there is ample room for businesses communities of both countries to tap the oil and fats sector.

Currently, Malaysian palm oil shipment into the Philippines fulfill 90 per cent of the country’s oils and fats needs.

With the Philippines being a producer of coconut oil, there are also many untapped business opportunities to be explored for both the palm and coconut oil industries, Dompok said.

Last year, the Philippines bought 512,000 tonnes of palm oil, valued at about RM1.79 billion, from Malaysia, a significant increase of 150 per cent from 204,731 tonnes in 2010. “This signifies that Malaysian palm oil is gaining popularity there. It also stamps the status of the Philippines as a major destination for our products,” Dompok said here yesterday when delivering his keynote address at the inaugural Malaysia-Philippines Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar (POTS).

The Malaysia-Philippines POTS is the 24th edition of its series since its introduction in 2006. It is jointly organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, with the support from key players in the local palm oil industry.

Speaking to the media later, Dompok said with close to 100 million population, the Philippines, no doubt, presents Malaysia with tremendous business prospects. “We, on the government side, want to start engaging with the Philippine government in an annual consultation like what we’ve had with the Indonesians, and POTS is a good start,” he said.

He added that prospects from the Philippines will not only come from planting oil palms, but also from finished products, especially cooking oil. “Malaysian households consume 56,000 tonnes of cooking oil a month and, together with the small medium enterprises, local consumption stands at 90,000 tonnes a month. Imagine the potential here (the Philippines),” he noted.

Dompok said the current per capita consumption for oils and fats in the Philippines is only 10.5kg a year, while the world’s average consumption is 25kg per person per year. “There is scope to improve on the per capita consumption. Even if the Philippines starts to grow and increase its own production of palm oil, it would still need to import to supplement its requirements,” said Dompok.

The minister also said that his visit to the Philippines this time is to facilitate the prospects of Malaysian planters to form joint ventures with local players to cultivate oil palms in southern Philippines as the “timing is right”.

“The government will facilitate the business opportunities, like when Malaysian companies (started) going into Indonesia where we initially allowed shipment of germinated seeds into Indonesia to start up their planting … Maybe we can have this here, too.”

Dompok added that during his visits to the four provinces in Mindanao, the people there were keen on planting oil palms. He hoped the private sectors in Malaysia would take the lead in exploring this investment opportunity.

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