March 6, 2018 / 7:46 AM / 3 months ago

Malaysia's FGV eyes new palm oil markets as India, Europe curb imports

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), the world’s biggest crude palm oil producer, is looking to new markets as traditional customers India and Europe take steps to curb purchases, the company’s chief executive said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: A worker collects palm oil fruit inside a palm oil factory in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur June 18, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said/File Photo

The Malaysian firm is planning to build palm oil refineries in Myanmar, the Philippines and Cambodia in the next two years, Zakaria Arshad told Reuters in an interview.

“We want to spread our sales to various countries, looking at new markets which are looking for additional crude palm oil and olein supply,” he said.

Peanut oil supplies have not been able to keep pace with growing demand in Myanmar, Zakaria said, meaning there is scope to boost palm oil sales there.

The Philippines, which traditionally uses coconut oil, is facing tight supplies of the product as coconut water becomes popular with some health-conscious consumers.

“There is (also) scope to meet growing demand in Pakistan where we have a refinery,” Zakaria said on the sidelines of an industry event in Kuala Lumpur.

The European Union in mid-January approved draft measures to reform its power market and reduce energy consumption to meet more ambitious climate goals. The draft includes banning the usage of palm oil in motor fuels from 2021.

India, the world’s biggest edible oil importer, last week raised import tax on crude and refined palm oil to the highest level in more than a decade, in a move designed to support local farmers.

“India has to import, they have (supply) limitations. Sooner or later they have to import palm oil. This is only temporary,” Zakaria said.

FGV’s production of fresh fruit bunches of palm oil are expected to rise 15 percent in 2018 from a year ago, Zakaria added.

“We are looking at a much better crop this year,” he said. “We have new areas that are starting production and we have sorted out other issues such as labour shortages and the weather has improved.”

Two thirds of palm oil produced at FGV comes from small-scale farmers across Malaysia.

Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Joseph Radford

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