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Consumer demand for responsibly sourced red palm oil expected to increase

Here’s another reason why food manufacturers are more likely to use Malaysian red palm oil in the future: One in two Americans usually shop with the environment in mind. This is according to research conducted by Linda Gilbert, founder and chief executive officer of EcoFocus Worldwide, experts on green and sustainability consumer trends.

After surveying more than 4000 Americans ages 18 to 65 this past March, Gilbert found that Americans are rethinking the ingredients in the foods, beverages and personal care products they buy, with health and sustainability in mind. “Significantly more Americans today are paying attention to where the ingredients in their foods and beverages are grown,” she comments, noting that the number has increased from 45 percent in 2010 to 53 percent in 2014. “Sixty three percent of Americans say the country of origin is extremely or very important on labels.”

Not surprisingly, as palm oil is being more widely used in U.S. products, Gilbert says attention has turned to its environmental sustainability. Major corporations such as Kellogg, General Mills and Proctor & Gamble have ramped up their commitment to not use palm oil that is associated with such things as deforestation. This matters to consumers today who are holding companies responsible for making eco-friendly choices available. According to the EcoFocus study, 67 percent of Americans say that using ingredients that are certified as sustainable is an extremely or very positive influence on their shopping choices.

This would seem to favor products made with Malaysian palm oil, because Malaysian palm oil is also an extremely sustainable crop. That is the result of a highly regulated industry. Currently, the industry is adhered to more than 15 laws and regulations including the Land Acquisition Act 1960, Environmental Quality Act 1974, Environmental Quality (Clean Air Regulations) 1978, Pesticides Act 1974 (Pesticides Registration Rules), Occupational Safety and Health Act (1977), and Protection of Wildlife Act 1972.

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More than 56 percent of Malaysia is still maintained under forest cover, including large tracts of permanent pristine rainforests. That percentage is dictated by law and remains unchanged for more than a decade. In fact, the majority of the nation’s orangutans now make their homes within such protected areas.

The Malaysian oil palm industry, and its research and development arm, are continuously working to improve the industry’s environmental performance. Various approaches and technologies aimed to reduce the impact of the industry on the environment have been adopted to successful practices in oil palm plantations, palm oil mills and refineries. The Malaysia oil palm industry envisions achieving the highest standards of sustainability of palm oil.

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