With a population base of over 330 million and consumption of 2.34 million tonnes last year, an increase of eight per cent from 2020, the Middle East region will continue to be an important export destination for Malaysia, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) says.

CEO Wan Aishah Wan Hamid said the region had shown consistent growth in consumption of specialty fats and palm oil would benefit from this trend due to its nutritional qualities and functional attributes.

“This region is also set to see a boost in demand due to the global events like Expo 2020 Dubai, FIFA 2022, religious tourism and more,” she told Bernama.

Last year, the export of Malaysian palm oil to the Middle East registered an increase of 8.2 per cent.

The leading importer from this region is Turkey with a volume of 703,588 tonnes followed by Iran with 404,319 tonnes.

These two markets have recorded increases of 19 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively.

Other countries which recorded increases are the UAE, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Qatar and Kuwait.

“The UAE palm oil market is expected to reach $467.1 million by 2025, according to a new report by Grand View Research Inc,” Wan Aishah said.

She said taking the example of confectionery products in Turkey, the sector has increased approximately 50 per cent for a period of 10 years beginning 2010.

She said that the sector would continue its growth pattern and palm oil consumption.

She added that Turkey was also positioned strategically to explore re-export opportunities to the Balkans and Central Asian region.

Meanwhile in Egypt, palm olein is on an upward trend to meet the growing demand in the hotel, restaurant and cafe (Horeca) sector.

This is especially after the improvements of tourism which was severely impacted by Covid-19 in the last two years.

The increase of palm olein blending in cooking oil is also another sector of growth in Egypt.

“While businesses continued to enjoy strong demand levels, they also reported a much sharper increase in input prices.

“The uptick was largely attributed to a rise in fuel and energy costs, as well as higher raw material prices.”

However, she said business confidence regarding future activity might be challenging ahead, especially to the UAE, due to the Omicron wave.

Nevertheless, she said this would depend on how the Omicron variant impacted worldwide travel and local restrictions

She said businesses also faced the prospect of higher inflation after the latest data indicated the fastest rise in purchase costs for nine months due to an increase in energy and raw material prices.

Wan Aishah said this year, the council would strengthen its promotional efforts for global recognition of Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) as Malaysia’s sustainability standard.

“A 360-degree marketing and promotional programme, to ensure visibility and understanding of MSPO, will be undertaken.

“This ranges from engagements with key government officials, seminars and talks with trade associations and the Horeca sector, as well as roadshows and social media advertising for general consumers.

“This would be a long-term endeavour that will start with our neighbouring countries and the ripple effect will finally be seen on products proudly carrying our MSPO logo, an indication that the sustainability standard has gained international stature,” she said.

She said the MPOC had started promoting MSPO on the MPOC World Expo Dubai online contest website.

Additionally, she said “Malaysian Palm Oil Full of Goodness” would be the main theme during the Sustainable Agri-Commodity Week from February 6-12 to support Malaysian palm oil-based product manufacturers who would be marketing their products at LuLu Hypermarket in the UAE.

She said being the fourth-largest contributor to the Malaysian economy, the palm oil industry would be able to maintain its 2021 performance in 2022 backed by various marketing and promotional efforts to be conducted by the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry and its agencies.

In 2021, the total exports of Malaysian palm oil and its derivatives stood at 24.26 million tonnes.

Due to high palm oil prices, total revenue increased by 40 per cent to 102.34 billion ringgit ($24.4 billion) as compared to 2020.