The five major palm oil importing countries in Asia have come together for the first time to form an alliance, Asian Palm Oil Alliance (APOA).
The alliance aims to work worldwide to ensure that palm oil is recognised as a high-quality, economical, and healthy vegetable oil and to change the negative image of palm oil, a statement by India's edible oil industry body The Solvent Extractors' Association of India
The alliance is among industry bodies of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. The secretariat of the newly-formed alliance would initially be managed by The Solvent Extractors' Association (SEA) of India.
In the coming year, the membership would be further expanded to include other select companies or industry organisations operating in the production or refining of palm oil across the continent.
In the first general body meeting of the Alliance, Atul Chaturvedi, the President of SEA, was elected as the first Chairman. The event also witnessed the launch of the website and logo of the Alliance, in the presence of Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary of the Union Food Ministry.
The newly elected Chairman said, "The need for Asian palm oil consuming countries was felt for a long time. The formation of APOA empowers several Asian countries for whom palm oil is a source of affordable food and nutrition."
"The Alliance 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," Chaturvedi added.
The next meeting of APOA is expected to be held in Indonesia early next year.
"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 B.V. Mehta, Executive Director, SEA.