03/04/2008 (The Edge Daily), Kuala Lumpur - Sime Darby Bhd is planning to invest over €34 million (RM169.03 million) in its current Unimills BV’s facilities Zwijndrecht, The Netherlands and other locations in Europe to further strengthen its position in the oils and fats downstream business in the continent.
In a statement yesterday, Sime Darby said it had identified various locations for palm oil processing facilities, including setting up a new refinery and bulking facilities which will complement the operations of its existing plant in The Netherlands.
At Unimills, the investment involves the installation of a new 10,000-tonne capacity tank yard, an innovation centre with a new laboratory and pilot plant facilities, and an enzymatic arrangement plant with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes per year.
Sime Darby said the innovation centre was one of three such facilities it would develop.
Its president and group chief executive Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid said the decision was based on Unimills’ successful transformation from a commodity-based company into one focused on delivering high value tailor-made products.
“We are encouraged by the positive uptake and see an opportunity for Unimills to conduct further research to develop a more comprehensive range of such high-value niche products,” he said.
Unimills, a member of the Sime Darby group, is a leading European supplier of tailor-made vegetable oils, producing more than 450,000 tonnes of products per year from the company base in The Netherlands.
On Sime Darby’s production of sustainable palm oil, Ahmad Zubir said the first batch of traceable palm oil originating from the Tawau region in Sabah arrived at the Rotterdam Port on March 28 via its Kunak bulking installation.
“The oil has been certified through a mass-balance claim at 70:30 by the independent assessor (the Schutter Group). The 30% is in support of the smallholders within the Kunak region in accordance with the requirement on social obligation,” he said.
Unimills is expected to further process this first batch of sustainable palm oil and launch a new series of products to cater to its major European customers such as Nestle and Unilever.
A market and technology leader in margarine hardstocks in Europe, Unimills in 2006 collaborated with the Sime Darby R&D centre to develop enzymatically rearranged fats which were successfully tested by major customers in the European market.
Sime Darby said market trends indicated a growing demand for this “greener” enzymatic rearranged fats compared to chemical interesterified fats.