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Would it be possible to inhibit growth in palm oil import to Kazakhstan?

At the plenary session on the morning of Wednesday, 7 March 2018, the Kazakh parliament’s Mazhilis (lower chamber) deputy Akhmet Muradov called on the government of Kazakhstan to assert strong quality control over palm oil, which is currently being brought into Kazakhstan from abroad.

His parliamentary motion on the matter, addressed to Prime Minister, draws attention to the drastically incre­ased use of palm oil in the Kazakh­stani food processing sector.
«It is particularly worrisome that palm oil, according to many experts, is classified as unsafe in terms of food-safety requirements. Palm oil is the most carcinogenic vegetable oil. The hazardousness of palm oil to human health is determined by the content of saturated vegetable fats, which have adverse effect on the digestive system, because saturated vegetable fats are not digested, they lead to disruption of lipid metabolism, raise cholesterol levels, with a consequent damage to the blood vessels», Muradov said.
Infant milk formulas containing palm oil provide quite little nutritional value. Palm oil is commonly added to infant formula to help replicate the high palmitic acid content of human breast milk. But the structure of the fat molecules in palm oil is different from that found in breast milk, and those fats are digested differently. It is revealed that palm oil is inclined to inhibit the absorption of calcium and fat. That is why infant formula containing it is not properly absorbed by infants, and babies who drink formula with palm oil are shown to have decreased bone density.
Growth in palm oil import to Kazakhstan is attributable to the fact that it can make melt cheese, cottage cheese, butter, confectionery products, chips and other food­stuffs phenomenally cheaper to manufacture. A ton of palm oil costs 697 dollars and it improves the shelf life of products. As to milk fat, it is far more expensive – 9.8 thousand dollar a ton.
«Manufacturer manages to add to certain types of so-called «dairy products» from 60% to 100% of the substitute made with palm oil. Analysis shows that the largest consumers of palm oil are companies that produce mayonnaise, ketchup, dairy products, candies, cookies, chips and others foodstuffs», Muradov continued.
Not only is the nutritional value of foods affected, producers of milk and vegetable oils are gradually being squeezed out of the domestic market.
In this connection, the Kazakh parliament’s Mazhilis (lower cham­ber) deputy raised the need to expedite the necessary amendments to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) technical regulation on palm oil quality.
Meanwhile Russia, an important ally of Kazakhstan, is continuing with sustained momentum to increase its palm oil import. Significant steps have been taken in this direction over the last year. After three years of negotiation, Russia and Indonesia have finally agreed to sign a major aerospace deal: 11 top-of-the-line Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets in exchange for Indonesian palm oil, coffee, and other goods. It is reportedly considered by both sides to be mutually beneficial. Jakarta says it will barter palm oil and other commodities for Russian fighter jets, considering US and European sanctions against Russia as an opportunity to boost trade.
«Russia occupies one of leading places on the import of palm oil from Indonesia. The purchases of oil increased by 33% last year», Mr. Wahid Supriyadi, extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belorussia, said at the Russian-Indonesian business forum, held in August last year in Moscow. And that means a lot. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of the commodity, providing about half of the world’s supply. In this country, oil palm plantations stretch across 6 million hectares (roughly twice the size of Belgium). Indonesia production of palm oil increased from 10.300 million tons in 2002 and 32.000 million tons in 2016. The Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki) stated that its target is to see Indonesia producing at least 40 million tons of CPO per year from 2020. Indonesia’s oil palm plantation and processing industry is a key industry to the country’s economy: the export of palm oil is an important foreign exchange earner while the industry provides employment opportunities to millions of Indonesians.

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