MPOC launch campaign in Europe

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) is raising publicity on the truth of oil palm planting and palm oil nutrition as it launched “a mark of provenance and an information campaign” in France and Belgium. 


In a statement issued from Paris, two days ago, MPOC chief executive officer Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron said this new European campaign is to combat preconceived ideas and invites the public to give their views on palm oil. 

For the past five years, many consumers in Europe are being mislead by widespread negative labelling on food and beverages at supermarkets. 

Palm oil's reputation damage is quite evident. A study by the industry revealed that in 2013, 328 products were labelled "No Palm Oil" in France and Belgium, up from 189 products in 2012. 

Last year, 39 producers replaced palm oil in their products with other fats, mainly hydrogenated sunflower oil. 

To set the record straight, MPOC's positive campaign seeks to reaffirm Malaysia’s commitment to responsible and sustainable production of palm oil. 

“We want to encourage a more balanced debate and correct the myths – the consequences of which are underestimated,” said Yusof. 

Today, many myths and falsehoods about palm oil are prevalent. This reputation damage is impacting those working in the industry in Malaysia or in Europe. 

“The truth is the palm oil industry provides a livelihood for over one million people in Malaysia, including 300,000 small farmers,” he said. "In France, palm oil imports are linked to 4,600 jobs and at neighbouring Belgium, this supply chain links 1,000 livelihoods." 

United Plantations Bhd vice-chairman Datuk Carl Bek-Nielsen, who was also at the launch, said: “We want to let every citizen and consumer form their own opinion based on the reality on the ground. 

“We hope they will realise that the Malaysian oil palm industry is committed to producing an oil that is more responsible in terms of the environment, health and the people who make a living from it,” he added.


Orchestrated by global communications agency Havas Paris, this new campaign entitled "They Say Everything And Anything At All About Malaysian Palm Oil" relies on the curiosity and exacting standards of citizen consumers. 

The integrated communication platform has several components: a press, poster and digital campaign in France and Belgium (a series of five amusing and colourful illustrations takes a playful look at widespread myths as a way of challenging the people); and an educational website (malaysianpalmoil.info) offering informative content, together with a quiz to win a study trip to Malaysia. 

Others include a mini web-documentary (six two-minute sequences on production, animals, food, forests, health, social issues, etc) which follows the adventures of three students and young professionals who met Malaysian palm oil stakeholders; social networks to share content and interact with the public; and a platform for relaying information to the French and Belgian media.


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Back home in Malaysia, MPOC had also initiated a boot camp with undergraduates from University Sabah Malaysia to raise public awareness on the reality of oil palm planting that had always adhered to balancing the needs of People, Planet and Profits.

MPOC has chosen the boot camp venue at the estates of IJM Plantations Bhd in Sandakan.

IJM Plantations is the 55 per cent-owned plantation arm of IJM Corp Bhd and one of the most efficient upstream oil palm planters in Malaysia. A relative newcomer to the plantation sector, IJM Plantations started in 1985. Today, its fully-matured estates in Sabah span over 25,000 ha. In Indonesia, it had also planted up 30,000 ha in East Kalimantan and Southern Sumatra.

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SANDAKAN: The Palm Oil Bootcamp 2015 organised by Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), in collaboration with IJM Plantations Bhd and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), aims to help create a more knowledgeable workforce for the palm oil industry.
   
The Bootcamp sought to expose UMS undergraduates to activities within an oil palm plantation and the related supply chains, in the hope that the exposure would generate interest among participants to contribute positively to the Malaysian palm oil industry.
   
This may be either by choosing a career within the industry, or disseminating information that they have to gained among their peers, especially on sustainability issues.
   
Eighteen university students were shortlisted for the bootcamp based on their academic and extra curriculum achievements. They toured IJM Plantation's home base in Sandakan, Sabah.
   
They met up with the plantation company's agronomists at the Quality, Training and Research Centre (QRTC) at Desa Talisai Estate in Sugut.
   
At IJM Plantation's nursery facilities, the UMS undergraduates were briefed on how designer seedlings were produced, where the best breed of male pollen is matched with select mother palms.
   
Like other plantations companies, IJM Plantations leverage on predator and prey controls at its estates. Barn owls serve as eco-friendly pest control measures, keeping rodents away from the growing trees.
   
The undergraduates also learnt the practical aspects of fruit harvesting, transportation to the mill and optimum palm oil extraction from the fruits.