More than 50 businesswomen, officials and foreign delegations attended a discussion about the benefits of palm oil hosted by the embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, in collaboration with tropical cooking oil importer and supplier IGS Cambodia, Gibbor Tempeh, champions of organic, non-gentically-modified, vegan, gluten- and wheat-free products, and Singaporean restaurant chain Collins.
Noam Lazuardy, first secretary in charge of economic cooperation with the embassy, told Khmer Times that the event was to promote the usage of palm oil, given Indonesia is the largest palm oil producer in Asean.
“Basically, we want to disseminate information on how palm oil is healthier for cooking. Nowadays there is a black campaign that says palm oil is bad for health. So this is how Indonesia and Asean are trying to promote the benefits of palm oil. We want to introduce palm oil with Indonesian cuisine to the public,” Lazuardy said.
“Why we disseminate the information to women is because they are the strongest to support economic growth. They also have a very important task in daily life and with their family when they use palm oil for as the main source for cooking,” he added.
At present, he said that Cambodian do not understand the benefits of palm cooking oil. He added that the embassy also wants to introduce Indonesian products to the Cambodian people as well.
“If there is a chance, we will attract Indonesian investors to set up a factory to produce palm oil here in Cambodia. We will try to discuss with the producers in Indonesia to examine potential investment in Cambodia,” Lazuardy said.
Palm oil is an extremely versatile product that has many different properties and functions, which makes it useful and widely used.
It is semi-solid at room temperature so it remains spreadable; it is resistant to oxidation and so can give products a longer shelf-life; it’s stable at high temperatures and so helps to give fried products a crispy and crunchy texture; it’s also odourless and colourless so does not alter the look or smell of food products.
In Asian and African countries, palm oil is used widely as cooking oil, just like Europeans might use sunflower or olive oil.
Palm oil is in nearly everything—it’s in close to 50 percent of the packaged products we find in a supermarket – everything from pizza, doughnuts and chocolate, to deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and lipstick. It is also used in animal feed and as a biofuel in many parts of the world.
Furthermore, palm oil is an important crop for the gross domestic product of emerging economies and there are millions of smallholder farmers who depend on producing palm oil for their livelihoods.
Some groups boycott palm oil, claiming ill-managed plantations are gradually wiping out rare animals such as orang utans and taking up too much land. Others argue well-managed plantations enable the creatures to live in harmony with human endeavours.
Dwinanto Sahputra, director of Indo Global Success (IGS) Co Ltd, an importer and supplier of tropical cooking oil in Cambodia, told Khmer Times that in Cambodia there is a lot of room for palm oil. Currently, in Cambodia, we see that there are only the soybean, olive and sunflower oils.
“We understand that palm oil can bring you benefits. We hope that Cambodia can choose the alternative of another cooking oil than they are using right now,” Dwinanto said.
“We want to import the fully finished products to Cambodia and display them in Aeon Malls, Bayon and Makro supermarkets and some other local stores. We entered the Cambodian market in 2017 and we are still raising awareness,” he added.
Dwinanto imports around 100 to 150 tonnes of the oil a year. He is trying to create market demand and Cambodian awareness of the oil.