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 Egypt Can Become Hub For Oils, Fats Trade, Says Chin

DUBAI, April 24 (Bernama) -- Egypt, among the fastest growing markets for oils and fats, offers plenty of opportunities and could become the region's trading hub for this sector including palm oil, says Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui.

Chin said that during the past few years, consumption of oils and fats in Egypt has grown by about eight per cent per year, almost three times the world average growth rate.

"Its current per capita consumption of oils and fats stood at 18.2 kg per person per year, which is about the world's average per capita consumption while imports of palm oil have reached more than 800,000 tonnes annually," Chin said in officiating at the first Malaysia-Egypt Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar (POTS), in Cairo Monday.

"Despite a relatively large import of palm oil, there are still potential areas for further development. With a sizeable population, Egypt offers plenty of opportunities in the oils and fats and soap sectors," he said.

More than 200 participants from major oils and fats industries from Egypt and other neighbouring countries, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Syria attended the seminar.

The text of his speech was made available to Bernama here.

The POTS, themed "Exploring Opportunities, Enhancing Palm Oil Trade", is jointly organised by Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB).

Chin said there was still a big potential for palm oil product utilisation in Egypt and as such industry players from both countries could use the event not only to strengthen current market position but also to explore new and untapped areas like animal feeds, oleochemicals, edible oils and fats sector, services, trading and investments in manufacturing.

He noted that in Egypt, palm oil and palm oil products were used mostly for the production of vegetable ghee, shortening, industrial margarine, industrial frying sector, food establishments and in the non-food sector, mainly soaps.

Apart from these factors, Chin said Egypt's geographical position, being strategically located in the Middle East and as part of Africa as well as close to Europe could possibly be a good choice as a hub for oils and fats trade including palm oil for the region.

"With Egypt's economic reform and robust economic growth, I would like to encourage the Malaysian palm oil industry to work towards developing strategic partnerships with the Egyptian counterparts not only for the Egyptian market but for neighbouring African countries, Mediterranean Europe and also Comesa (Common Market for East and Southern Africa), of which Egypt is a member," he said.

Chin urged Egyptian importers and processors who have yet to import and use palm oil to seriously consider palm oil products when deciding what oils to import.

For example, he said, the public sector could consider importing palm olein as cooking oil for the subsidised or ration oil market because of its competitive price vis-a-vis soft oils like soyabean oil or sunflower oil.

"Palm olein, in particular, offers an attractive alternative and at the same time provide savings. This is surely one of the opportunities to be explored," he stressed.

The minister also noted that long before trans fat was raised by the US Food and Drug Administration as a nutritional issue (1999), Egypt had already been producing trans-free vegetable ghee and other trans-free fat products.

Since the 80's, the public sector shifted to using palm oil products for vegetable ghee and shortening instead of hydrogenated soft oils and the emergence of private sector oil/fat companies starting from the mid-80's amplified the use of palm oil.

The change from hydrogenated oil to palm oil by the public sector was very wise not only from the techno-economic aspect but also from the nutritional point of view, he said, noting that in recent years, many food manufacturers in the US, Europe and in some other regions have been resorting to using palm oil to eliminate or reduce trans fat in their product formulations.

"It is therefore useful for Egypt to keep to the current practice of having trans-free or low trans fat products by using palm oil," said.

Relating the success of palm oil in the oil/fat markets worldwide, Chin said it was not only because of price competitiveness but also because palm oil truly offered value for money.

"Palm oil is a versatile oil both as liquid oil and as solid fat, its functionality in food and non-food applications makes it a sought-after oil among manufacturers. In short, palm oil possesses qualities sought after by manufacturers and consumers, namely environmentally, techno-economically and nutritionally fulfilling," he said.

Among those present at the event were chairman of Food Export Council, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Egypt Tarek Tawfik, Malaysia's Ambassador to Egypt Datuk Zainal Abidin Ab Kadir, MPOB chairman Datuk Sabri Ahmad, MPOB Director General Datuk Dr Mohd Basri Wahid and MPOC chief executive officer Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron.


Malaysian Palm Oil Board ( MPOB ) Lot 6, SS6, Jalan Perbandaran, 47301 Kelana Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, MALAYSIA.
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