Kim Loong earmarks RM10m for R&D

PETALING JAYA: KIM Loong Resources Bhd, a small plantation group, has allocated RM10 million for research and development to further drive its downstream activities.

Executive chairman Gooi Seong Lim said the group is hopeful of generating a new income stream from its tocotrienol health supplement brand called E-life Gold. It is scheduled to be launched at the end of the year.

"We're in the process of fine-tuning our vitamin E extraction plant to suit commercial needs," he told reporters after the company's annual general meeting here yesterday. "We hope to supply tocotrienols for health supplement and pharmaceutical markets by the end of this year," Gooi said.

Kim Loong's vitamin E extracting plant, which is attached to its Kota Tinggi palm oil mill in Johor, is able to produce 3,000kg of palm tocotrienols a year. Also present was Dr Gee Ping Tou, a scientist attached to Kim Loong's unit Palm Nutraceuticals Sdn Bhd.

He explained that vitamin E is made up of a family of four tocopherols and four tocotrienols.

Palm oil extracts, which contain tocotrienols, are far more potent than regular fish oil and evening primrose health supplements currently sold at pharmacy shelves that are only fortified with tocopherols extracted from softoils like soya, canola and sunflower.

"We need to educate the public on the superior nutritional benefits of palm tocotrienols over cheap tocopherol health supplements," Gee said.

So far, preliminary scientific studies by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board suggest that tocotrienols can reduce bad cholesterol, kill cancer cells and slow down aging.

Tocopherols, however, do not possess these beneficial characteristics. In fact, recent studies seemed to show alpha tocopherol, a particular sibling in the vitamin E, is negating the cancer-fighting benefits of its tocotrienol siblings.

Following this development, Kim Loong have, in the last couple of years, redesign and rebuilt its vitamin E plant to extract more of the "good" cancer fighting tocotrienol sibling called delta tocotrienol and sift out the "bad" interfering sibling called alpha tocopherol.

To a question on Kim Loong's core plantation business, Gooi said the group which has fully planted its 13,000ha oil palm estates, is open to to expand its landbank. "While we have about RM90 million in cash, good land is hard to come by. Price have gone sky high," he said. "We're willing to invest in Indonesia but we need to find a good local partner to make it work."

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