I remember when I was small, my father told me about the basics of palm oil. At that time, not many countries use the product as compared to the other edible oils in the market. He, who was working with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) at that time, was working hard, promoting the product at the global stage, especially to Europe, the Middle East, and some African countries.
There is one thing that many industry players do not understand about the product is that it is a versatile product to the level that it can easily substitute any other edible oil, and also, unfortunately, easily be substituted too.
My father, who is now a government retiree, once told me that, the palm kernel can generate more benefit to the human being than all vegetable oils combined! When I asked him why? He said to me that palm tree is a miracle solution to the people. It is a direct sibling of palm dates and coconut tree. It provides the best source for multi-vitamins and also an antioxidant which helps the users to produce a healthy diet.
As a chemist and also a commercially savvy person, he explained to me what makes palm oil far superior to any other products in the edible oil market. We, the Malays believe that a coconut tree gives more than a thousand benefits. On the other hand, a palm tree can also provide a similar quantum of benefits to humanity, but spiritually, it can give much more to our well-being. This is because the palm tree has a combined DNA of the “dates tree” and the “coconut tree.”
Although I am not an expert in the field, I do care about the palm oil industry as so was my father when he works with the Malaysian government.
In the past, the palm oil was not that popular (to be considered as edible oil). It was just an alternative to other more popular products from the United States like the soybeans and sunflower. Later, when soybeans demand increase for other purposes such as for food, palm oil replaces its dominance in the production of edible oil without much fights from the United States or other producers of the soybeans.
However, since the United States is at war (in term of trade) with China, its soybeans demand from China decreases due to the increase of import duty costs, hence the decrease of the product price. It is a no brainer for the EU to consider soybeans as an attractive substitute to the crude palm oil. The EU economic zone can quickly become the target market for the United States soybean producers to place their soya bean cargoes, to the level where now crude palm oil has become an unwanted commodity in Europe.
Unfortunately, China cannot so much increase the purchase of crude palm oil from Malaysia as they prefer to eat soy-based food than the palm-oil-based food. Unless if there were a reversed engineering technology which can utilize the palm oil to reproduce some of the popular soybeans based food in China which can generate similar taste and benefits. Then China might want to trade with Malaysia and Indonesia, and hence let Europe and the United States remain as the soybean oil users.
China can then get more benefit from the consumption of palm oil (to substitute the soybeans) as it has rich in proteins and lower fat content. Crude palm oil will be going on the upward, if it gets some engineering tweak (which the Chinese are good at), can also produce other great products in other chemicals industry such as detergents, supplements, pharmaceutical and animal feed. So, it is not impossible for the crude palm oil to eventually replace soybeans indefinitely because Asians are good at surviving when being pushed to the wall. Oh, forgot to mention, that the Great Wall of China was built thousands of years ago, even before Donald Trump decided to make something similar at the border with Mexico.
It is interesting to observe what is happening around us. When a major leading country like the United States makes a decision that is “not strategic,” hence its allies would suffer in the end. In this context, the EU is on the verge of making another bad move by banning Malaysian palm oil using some lame excuses such as the “environmental issues,” where this was not the case at all, let say 10 to 20 years ago! This has only become the major complaint when China stops buying the soybeans from Donald Trump of the US.
Well, let me tell you this. This behavior will soon make the Asians united, and that will not be a piece of good news to the United States as they are hoping for Malaysia and its friends to ditch China in almost all issues (including the matters related to OBOR and the South China Sea). However, like Tun Mahathir has mentioned many times before, that China has never conquered Malaysia since time immemorial, and remain as Malaysia’s friend until today. The European came in 1502 and then two years later conquered Malacca without any concrete reason whatsoever. But yet, they acted like a superpower, when China acts, more like a friend.
My father was right. Despite the benefit which God has sent down to human through palm dates which were originated from the Heaven, and mentioned in most of the holy scriptures of the Abrahamic faiths, some ignorants would still want to play down the Palm Oil’s advantages by propagating that it has other downsides such as its requirement to use vast acres of lands and taking a more extended period and labors in term of production.
These Donald Ducks (my own terminology in referring to a person with low IQs and EQs, and who cannot learn from the history) should try to educate himself or herself how to appreciate the benefits of some good business relationships. If the EU can stop purchasing something, do not expect that Malaysia cannot do the same to let say some crucial items which other EU countries are producing. And Malaysia can quickly turn to that country which is producing anything under the sun, and it is not that far away from us.
So there you go Donald Duck! Go on with your lame excuses and short-sighted trade-war! Let us start buying and selling with those who are much closer, truthful and more friendlier towards us, than those who are trying to bully us with some lame reasoning.
Thank you for teaching us how to be more responsible to our own needs.
With you, your requirement; and with us, are our requirements.
And let Allah decide, which one, in the end, will survive. May Allah will always be with the steadfast and the one who obeys Him alone.