Kazakhstan is a large agrarian country. Meat and dairy products are at the core of Kazakh cuisine. Yet in Kazakhstan at the moment, real milk is becoming more and more uncommon. First, milk powder imports have made their entry into the Kazakhstani food market. Now, the bulk of milk solids is replaced with palm oil (or other vegetable oil) solids. Progress, so to speak, does not stand still.
46 and a half thousand tons of palm oil! That’s how much Kazakhstani consumers have eaten in the last three years. Such impressive figures have been made public by members of Parliament.
According to calculations made by the Mazhilis (the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of Kazakhstan) deputies, amount of foodstuffs containing unsound fats has doubled within a year. An explanation for this development may be found in price. Producers are attracted by the availability of low-value commodity.
“A ton of palm oil costs 697 dollars and it improves the shelf life of products. As to milk fat which has always been used in our country, 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”, the Kazakh parliament’s Mazhilis (lower chamber) deputy Akhmet Muradov said.
Of course, there are the large differences between prices. Palm in itself is a good thing, but only if it is applied in its pristine form. This is rarely the case in our practice. What they put in baby formula, dairy and confectionery products are called “palm fat”. It, as experts say, contains carcinogens, blocks calcium and is barely excreted from the body.
Unscrupulous producers mix dry milk mixture with palm fat in order to get more milk at a lower cost. This will increase shelf life and reduce production costs. The production of normal milk is more complex, and it requires much more work, much larger costs and is much more time-consuming.
Incoagulability, long shelf life and odor are the distinguishing characteristics of milk made in such a way. It is not easy for farmers to compete with those producing such products. As a consequence, the competitiveness of natural products had been affected by these new modes of production. Eventually, the consumer turns out to be at a disadvantage. That is a deeply unacceptable and untenable situation. Surely it can no longer be tolerated.
Farmers who are producing organic products complain that their competitors are acting improperly. Some of them “fail” to indicate “contains palm oil” on the box or on the package. Even in the best case, there would be information on the presence of vegetable fats in the composition of that product. And in the worst case, no information concerning this matter would be provided. These are the day-to-day of life, and they do pose problems.
The Kazakhstani parliamentarians have expressed serious concerns at the prospect of the negative consequences that may flow from palm fat intake. In this regard, they have raised the need to expedite the necessary amendments to the technical regulation on palm oil quality and to impose more stringent quality requirements on import into Kazakhstan.
Similar actions are being undertaken in the Russian Federation, Ukraine and in a number of other post-Soviet countries. Particularly notable is Russia’s case in this context. Why so? We’ll try to explain. Russia is a major arms supplier to Indonesia, the world’s largest exporter of palm oil, providing about half of its global supply, and the two countries recently signed a contract for Indonesia’s purchase of 11 Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets through a barter deal. They should be sold in exchange for Indonesian palm oil. Consequently, the Russian Federation is expected to take in huge amounts of such products. By the way, the import of palm oil by Russia rose from 600 thousand tons in 2012 to more than 1 million tons in 2017. And in the meantime, the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia has already presented a proposal to completely ban the use of milk powder in the production of cheese and vegetable fats.
The EU wants to outlaw palm oil. Such a wish can be realized under the guise of environmental concerns. Well, regardless, that what matters are results. Brussels is apparently willing to ban imports of palm oil.