At the initiative of the global sustainable agriculture specialist organisation Solidaridad Network, the apex edible oil industry associations from five major palm oil importing countries from Asia have come together for the first time to form an Asian Palm Oil Alliance (APOA).

The APOA alliance is initiated by the apex solvent extractors associations of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. In the coming year, the membership would be further expanded to include other select companies or industry organisations operating in the production and/or refining of palm oil in Asia.

“The APOA secretariat would be initially managed by The Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India. In the first General Body Meeting of the APOA, Atul Chaturvedi, Director of Adani Wilmar Ltd and the President of SEA, was elected as the first Chairman of the APOA,” said APOA in a release.

Atul Chaturvedi said, “The formation of APOA empowers several Asian countries for whom palm oil is a source of affordable food and nutrition. The APOA is expected to safeguard the economic and business interests of the palm- oil consuming countries and create a level playing field for all fats and oils used in food, feed and oleochemicals in Asia. It will further work towards increasing the consumption of sustainable palm oil in member countries”.

B.V. Mehta, executive director, SEA pointed out that together, the Asian markets are responsible for about 40% of global demand. “Europe accounts for about 12% of the market, and the US for 2%. India is the largest importer of Palm oil in the Asian region and accounts for 15% of global imports. China with 9%, Pakistan with 4% and Bangladesh with 2% of the global imports are the other significant countries with a stake in palm oil production and trade. However, the industry associations of Asian palm-oil importing countries, unlike their counterparts in the EU, are not involved in shaping the global discourse on sustainable palm oil in a collective way. Asian stakeholders over the last two decades were instead forced to follow sustainability standards that don’t reflect the Asian market realities. The launch of APOA is expected to bridge this gap and will help in developing a shared, collective, coordinated and coherent position of the Asian palm oil industry stakeholders,” said Mehta.

Dr Shatadru Chattopadhayay, Managing Director of Solidaridad for Asia, said: “We are happy to be the neutral convenor of all significant Asian solvent extractors association. In the coming years, we believe APOA will emerge as one of the most vital forums to address common problems, interests and aspirations of the global palm oil industry. In the decades to come, the rising wealth of Asia will further boost the regional demand for palm oil. We expect APOA would be soon joined by the palm oil producing countries from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. We are pleased to have the opportunity to support this initiative and look forward to achieve many milestones together”

Kazi Salahuddin Ahammad, Bangladesh Vegetable Oil Refiners & Vanaspati Manufacturers Association said, “Asia has a key role to play in sustainable palm oil thus the creation of APOA will support and accelerate the transition towards a sustainable and inclusive palm oil industry in Asia. This would foster Asia’s position as sustainability leader.”

Dr. Rohan Fernando, President, Palm Oil Industry Association said “The role of APOA is crucial in the facilitation of collective and coordinated efforts of both Asian palm oil- producer countries and Palm oil consuming countries for sustainable palm oil. It will strengthen Asia’s role in palm oil sustainability disclosure. We are also pleased to have the opportunity to support this initiative and is grateful to both Solvent Extractors Association and Solidaridad for inviting the Palm Oil Industry Association of Sri Lanka to be a founder member of the APOA and look forward to achieve many milestones together.”

The APOA members separately held a meeting with the 10-member delegation from the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs and Indonesia, the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) and the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) Secretariat to explore joint research “to scientifically demonstrate the health benefits of palm oil and also launch joint consumer campaigns in Asian markets”.

The next meeting of APOA is expected to be held in Indonesia early next year.

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