The European debate on palm oil: rebalancing the image

Posted on: November 06, 2014

“With respect to palm oil, Europe is on a fast way forward”, said Margot Logman, Programme Manager of the European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA) during her presentation at the Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar (POTS) in Kuala Lumpur the 29th October 2014.  “EPOA’s aim is to restore the image of palm oil and health in Europe by providing science-based information and communicating on commitments, facts and figures.”

In Europe the debates on palm oil are often based on one-sided, biased or incorrect information, resulting in calls for product reformulation replacing palm oil in foods with other fats and oils. The negative image of palm oil, which was originally related to issues involving sustainability, now extends to its potential negative effects on health. Logman: “Inconsistently, the possibilities to replace palm oil with other fats and oils highly depend on the requirements of the food product and may not necessarily result in a food product with a better nutritional profile. The presence of palm oil in itself does not define the nutritional value of a meal.”

The Palm oil debate differs per country. To close any gap in knowledge, EPOA engages with stakeholders and organizations involved in palm oil in order to facilitate the debate and the exchange of opinions both at European and at a local level. EPOA supports national initiatives and summarizes available science based knowledge into tangible communication materials, sharing all available information and data.

Logman presented EPOA’s strategy, objectives, activities and results so far. Several types of communication material have been developed. Furthermore EPOA participated in several events and activities sharing information and opinions and enabling to improve mutual understanding.

Longman stated: “Carefully listening to each other and sharing concerns enables to view each angle of the discussion and work on a widely carried solution. By working on a common agenda that supports key players in the supply chain, we believe that in the long run we can rebalance any polarised industry views on palm oil.“

EPOA aims to become the leading authority on palm oil and health in Europe. In 2015 the engagement of retailers is one of the priorities. First focus now is EPOC: a full palm oil experience organized in cooperation with ESPOAG and RSPO the 9th December 2014 in Brussels.