26/02/2008 (Red Orbit) - The three-day Palm and Lauric Oils Conference (POC) 2008, which started yesterday, will see more than 1,600 delegates gathering in Kuala Lumpur, surpassing last year's number of 1,500.
The majority of the participants are oil palm growers, oleochemical producers, food manufacturers, vegetable oil traders, biodiesel producers, commodity fund managers, financiers, futures dealers, plantation stock analysts and cargo surveyors.
Process engineering company Lipochem (M) Sdn Bhd, an exhibitor at the POC series, said the event has grown in leaps and bounds to become the global authority in palm oil price outlook.
"More and more consumers from China and India fly in to get price updates. So we get to meet with the chiefs and negotiate job orders to build refineries and oleochemical plants," managing director P.M. Koh said.
Yesterday, the third month benchmark crude palm oil futures (FCPO) contract on Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Market hit an all- time high of RM3,914 per tonne before closing at RM3,866 per tonne.
The volatile trade also resulted in its biggest intra-day gain of RM216 in the last 16 months.
The run-up in palm oil prices in the last couple of years has been due to rising demand as more rapeseed and soya oil are used in the US and Europe as biofuel. Last month, a severe snowstorm wiped out China's autumn and winter supply of rapeseed, prompting a sudden increase in demand for palm oil to ease vegetable oil shortage there.
Many top plantation companies chief executive officers are expected to make time for Oil World magazine's Thomas Mielke's presentation and price forecast for the year.
Participants at the annual price forecasting game are wondering whether palm oil prices could surpass the US$1,500 (RM4,830) per tonne level now that it is hovering around US$1,250 (RM4,025).
To strengthen Malaysia's position as the world's palm oil hub, the exchange plans to introduce a new US dollar-denominated crude palm oil contract, named FUPO. POC2008 has included a session on palm oil futures trading opportunities by Malaysian Futures Brokers Association, Commodity Murabahah House and Bank Negara Malaysia.
Among the participants is Kenanga Deutsche Futures Sdn Bhd, a winner of Bursa Malaysia's award for futures broker in the past four years.
"We'll be there to share with our existing and potential clients the benefits of trading FUPO, in addition to the popular FCPO contracts," executive director Ng Chin Leng said.