health

India trade issues:India benefits from little price increase in palm oil, eye on Africa, domestic oil palm

9 July 2016: India benefits from little price increase in palm oil, eye on Africa, domestic oil palm


The other oil: How a product almost entirely imported has defied food inflation  by Harish Damodaran July 3, 2016 -- It costs the country roughly $10.5 billion in annual forex outgo, yet hardly attracts the kind of editorial commentary that oil, gold, mobiles, coal and other big-ticket import items do. Like petroleum, it is also shipped in tankers — typically Handymax/Supramax vessels of 15,000-50,000 tonnes capacity — and processed in giant refineries. But unlike regular “commodities”, there are strong regional patterns and preferences dictating its consumption. And most important, it’s indispensable to any meal, even while being a rare food article that has recorded very little price increase in recent times. India is the world’s second largest consumer of edible oil — the “other oil” that is used to deep fry our pooris and rohu fish, make the tadka/chounk tempering to add flavour and aroma to dals, and impart necessary texture, mouth-feel and bite to biscuits and cookies. Like petroleum, this one, too, is largely imported: Out of the country’s 20-21 million tonnes (mt) annual consumption, next only to China’s 34-35 mt, 14.5-15.5 mt is imported. The evolution of this consumption is itself a story worth telling....http://indianexpress.com/article/business/commodities/edible-oil-import-india-food-inflation-2890198/

Modi’s African Safari May Yield Major Economic Gains for India by Manoj Joshi July 7, 2016 -- One of the emerging areas of interest is that of floriculture and agriculture, because of the agriculture investment-friendly attitude of many of the states. For example, Karuturi Global Ltd, originally a floriculture company from  Bengaluru, now owns a vast land bank, the size of Goa in Ethiopia and Kenya where it is involved in floricuture, as well as commercial farming of sugarcane, palm oil and coffee. Indian companies are also interested in moving to Madagascar as well.... http://www.thequint.com/opinion/2016/07/06/will-modis-african-safari-yield-major-economic-gains-for-india-mozambique-hamid-ansari-pranab-mukherjee

Village off Dudhnoi takes to palm oil cultivation by SIVASISH THAKUR  DUDHNOI, July 3 - For the first time in the State, farmers in Dudhnoi and Boko have taken to oil palm cultivation. Started last year under the Centrally-sponsored National Mission for Oil Seeds and Oil Palm, the cultivation today covers a total area of 409 hectares.... http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=jul0416/at054


7 July 2016: India worries about palm oil in fast food, Canada-India FTA may boost canola oil as healthier option, food safety flap over solvent extraction

Three McDonald’s outlets in Jaipur found using 16-day-old oil by Deep Mukherjee, Hindustan Times, Jaipur |  Updated: Jun 28, 2016  -- A routine inspection drive conducted by the Jaipur health department earlier this month revealed that three branches of McDonald’s – a popular fast food chain – were reportedly using oil that was over 16 days old. The discovery has spurred department officials to check if popular fast food chains in the city adhere to prescribed food safety standards. “During an inspection drive on June 17, we were shocked to find that the oil being used by three McDonald’s outlets was 16 days old. The oil had turned black because it was being heated constantly at 360 degrees Celsius for all those days. The management was unable to give us a satisfactory answer,” said Narottam Sharma, chief medical and health officer, Jaipur. There were other problems too. “We also found that palmolein oil was being used at all McDonald’s branches in Jaipur. Palmolein oil is less healthy when compared to other edible oils such as soybean oil,” Sharma said....http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/three-mcdonald-s-outlets-in-jaipur-found-using-16-day-old-oil/story-QfLPlZzUmqrZIxsYULipWM.html
Interaction prog on prospect of Palm Oil plantation in Namsai June 29, 2016 http://www.arunachaltimes.in/interaction-prog-on-prospect-of-palm-oil-plantation-in-namsai/

1/3rd of what we eat today is foreign Subodh Varma | TNN | Jun 26, 2016 Of all the food grains, vegetables and fruits grown and eaten in India, about a third originally came from some foreign land. In terms of calories, such food items account for 45% of all calories consumed in the country. At the global level, 66% of calories consumed are derived from foreign origin foods on an average as is 71% of production. This data was gathered and analysed by an international team of scientists studying interdependence of the world's countries on each other's foods. The study, covering 177 countries and 132 types of fruits and vegetables, was led by scientists from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-times/deep-focus/1/3rd-of-what-we-eat-today-is-foreign/articleshow/52919858.cms


Canada-India FTA must to boost trade: Lyle Stewart, Canadian minister By Madhvi Sally, ET Bureau | Jun 23, 2016 -- With India aiming to increase productivity and ensure food security, do Canadian farmers and companies see this as an opportunity to partner both at the farm and processing levels? There are many opportunities here - there's room for technology transfer and ways to expand agriculture products sale to India. For example, canola oil is a healthier option than palm oil for a growing Indian population. The sale of canola oil has doubled and is growing fast...... http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52876339.cms?



Mixed trend prevails in oil market by Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi  June 18, 2016 - A mixed trend prevailed at the wholesale oil and oilseeds market during the week as select edible oils edged up on scattered demand from vanaspati millers and retailers, while a few others turned weak on adequate stocks position. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/mixed-trend-prevails-in-oil-market-116061800175_1.html

Palm oil imports plunge 28% on higher stock, weak demand PTI | Jun 14, 2016 New Delhi, Jun 14 () India's palm oil imports fell by 27.54 per cent to 6,57,454 tonnes in May, in view of higher stock availability and sluggish summer demand, industry body Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) said today.  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Palm-oil-imports-plunge-28-on-higher-stock-weak-demand/articleshow/52744206.cms

Palm oil planters likely to increase acreage this year By Ashish Kulshrestha, ET Bureau | Jun 17, 2016, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52796452.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst


India Palm Oil Imports Drop in May on Slow Demand, Stockpiles by  Pratik Parija  June 14, 2016  -- Soybean oil purchases fall 38%; sunflower oil imports drop. Cooking oil stockpiles on June 1 enough to meet 42 days demand http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-14/india-palm-oil-imports-drop-in-may-on-slow-demand-stockpiles

Hydrotreatment or solcent extraction methods can yield oils with no carcinogenic potential Jun 05,2016 --  Even as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has directed its central licensing arm to issue a show cause notice to Patanjali Ayurved Ltd over complaints about 'alleged misleading advertisement', it has emerged that the "US Institute" quoted by Yoga guru Baba Ramdev-led FMCG group on mustard oil does not support its contention. Patanjali Ayurved had brought out advertisement in major newspapers saying "According to NCBI (US Institute) Hexagon solvent which is a petroleum by-product is carcinogenic in nature." It further said that "other than Kacchi Ghani process, most of the other edible refined oils and mustard oil are made using Neurotoxin Hexagon Solvent extraction process." It also said "Patanjali's Kacchi Ghani Mustard Oil does not contain any harmful chemicals." Kacchi Ghani refers to the cold press extraction process....."These methods are safe up to a permissible limit. But FSSAI has not set any permissible limit in India," Tijarawala said......The SEA had sent a complaint to the FSSAI stating that "the process of hexane solvent extraction is very well recognised and approved as laid down in regulation of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulation, 2011" for edible oils. The SEA had also complained to the Advertisement Standards Council of India (ASCI) about the Patanjali ads. In response, the ASCI said that the ad "stating 'mineral oil is carcinogenic in nature and may cause cancer' was false and misleading by ambiguity and by gross exaggeration." The ASCI also said "Patanjali's claims that many companies 'mix cheap palm oil in mustard oil to make profits at the cost of consumers' health', were not substantiated and the claims were misleading." This, Mehta said, "is not the way to promote or market one's products. It is wrong to paint an entire industry as a thug....http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Health/2016-06-05/Hydrotreatment-or-solcent-extraction-methods-can-yield-oils-with-no-carcinogenic-potential/232984

Pakistan - Edible oil demands seen at 10-year low in upcoming Ramazan By Erum Zaidi May 28, 2016 -- KARACHI: The share of palm oil in Pakistan’s growing edible oil imports is expected to drop to the lowest since 2006 in the upcoming Ramazan as the early onset of summer accentuated the drop in buying despite seasonal increase in demand in the fasting month, a top importer said. “Ghee and cooking oil packers have never seen such a sluggish demand over the last 10 years in the Muslim fasting month of Ramazan,” said the importer, asked not to be named.  “…this year due to extreme high temperature in summer the consumption of oil has declined.” 

The trader said high temperatures in May, three- to five-degrees above normal, slowed consumption demand. Use of vegetable oil for cooking purposes usually wanes in summer. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/123256-Edible-oil-demands-seen-at-10-year-low-in-upcoming-Ramazan

Palm oil industry's profits slip 25%, small firms shut shop By Ashish Kulshrestha & Sutanuka Ghosal, May 18, 2016  http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52322064.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

Palm oil analyst Mistry cuts price forecast to RM2,600-RM2,800 per tonne 20 May 2016 http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2016/05/20/palm-oil-analyst-mistry-cuts-palm-forecast-to-rm2600-rm2800-per-tonne/


Govt allows bulk export of rice bran oil By PTI | May 18, 2016 http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/govt-allows-bulk-export-of-rice-bran-oil/articleshow/52331447.cms


Overseas investors continue to shun oil palm industry PRASHANTH CHINTALA May 7, 2016 http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/overseas-investors-continue-to-shun-oil-palm-industry/article8566558.ece?w=alauto


Govt targeting enhancing domestic production of oilseeds PTI | May 11, 2016 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Govt-targeting-enhancing-domestic-production-of-oilseeds/articleshow/52226382.cms

The oil wars by POOJA BHULA | Sun, 10 Apr 2016-06:35am , Mumbai -- What's the healthier option: olive oil, palm oil or local Indian oils? As the edible oil industry confuses us with its claims, we ask nutritionist Pushpa Ladsariya to settle the debate and tell us how to avoid blunders when using oil http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-the-oil-wars-2200096

Oil palm developers hail market intervention scheme IANS | Apr 21, 2016 -- erabad, April 21 (IANS) The Oil Palm Developers and Processors Association (OPDPA), the nodal body for oil palm development in the country, on Thursday welcomed the central government's move to assist palm oil farmers by implementing a market intervention scheme. The scheme has been announced for Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) of oil palm to Rs.7,888 per ton. Declining crude oil prices over the past year has been the bane of the industry, and has resulted in severe distress for both farmer and industry, the OPDPA said in a statement, adding it has been trying to persuade the state and the central governments to introduce minimum support price (MSP) or market intervention scheme (MIS) to help farmers.... http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/Oil-palm-developers-hail-market-intervention-scheme/articleshow/51930562.cms


12 December 2015:  India - OPDPA urges government to increase import duty on crude palm oil to 45%, oil palm growers eye coconut farming? Rubber farmers face price problems


India - OPDPA urges government to increase import duty on crude palm oil to 45% By Sutanuka Ghosal, ET Bureau | 8 Dec, 2015... Oil Palm Developers and Processors Association (OPDPA) the nodal agency for oil palm development in India, has urged the government to increase the import duty on crude palm oil to 45%. The government has recently increased the import duty on crude  palm oil to 17.5% from 5%.India's current vegetable oil import bill is to the tune of $10 billion out of which 80% comprises of palm oil and its derivatives. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/50090579.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst


The curious case of oil palm - The opening of oil palm cultivation to FDI ends the 25-year struggle to convince India farmers by Aruna Urs   November 16, 2015
Palm oil industry welcomes 100% FDI but wants land ceiling norms relaxed by  K V Kurmanath.. While calling for an exclusive palm oil import policy, the association feels that the current import duty levels are not supportive to oil palm farmers and the industry. He called for formation of a separate oil palm development board to aid the promotion of the industry as planned by the Government.. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/palm-oil-industry-welcomes-100-fdi-but-wants-land-ceiling-norms-relaxed/article7883447.ece

Oil Palm industry demands subsidy policy to help farmers Nov 18 2015 http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/business/oil-palm-industry-demands-subsidy-policy-to-help-farmers/159535.html


Oil palm growers take to coconut farming  December 08,2015; The oil palm farmers are now barely getting an income of Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 per acre annually. At an average, the farmers get a yield of around 12 tonnes of fresh fruit bunches (FFBs) per acre every year. With current price of the FFBs hovering around Rs 5,700 per tonne, farmers are hardly making Rs 40,000 a year..... Against this backdrop, the coconut farming appears to be a lucrative one for farmers with the availability of some superior quality seed nut and seedlings of hybrid coconut varieties like Ganga, Malayan Orange, Yellow Dwarf and Chowghat Orange Dwarf. Each acre that accommodates 60 to 70 coconut trees is expected to give a yield of over 10,000 nuts per annum, according to a conservative estimate. Based on the demand for tender coconut in the country, farmers will get anywhere between Rs 10 and Rs 12 per each nut.http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/2015-12-08/Oil-palm-growers-take-to-coconut-farming--191726

Indian rubber farmers facing ruin as global prices crash by Subodh Varma | TNN | Dec 7, 2015 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Indian-rubber-farmers-facing-ruin-as-global-prices-crash/articleshow/50077311.cms


Malaysia palm oil - India's demand spurt sparks hopes of firmer pricing KUALA LUMPUR (NewsRise) November 16, 2015  -- A spurt in demand from India may help firm prices of palm oil, even as Malaysia's stockpile climbed to a fresh record high in October and shipments to other top importers slipped. Imports to India surged 59% in October from a year earlier and 24% month-on-month, according to Malaysian Palm Oil Board's latest data, ahead of peak demand during the Hindu festival of lights, or Diwali. The robust demand from India--the world's largest consumer and importer of palm oil--comes at a time when the commodity faces supply glut and lacklustre demand from other major markets such as China and Pakistan. http://asia.nikkei.com/Markets/Commodities/India-s-demand-spurt-sparks-hopes-of-firmer-pricing

Govt allows 100% FDI in five plantation crops including coffee Nov 10, 2015 NEW DELHI: The government today allowed 100 per cent FDI in five plantation crops, mainly coffee, rubber, cardamom, palm oil tree and olive oil tree via automatic route, a move hailed by the industry. At present, 100 per cent FDI is allowed only in tea plantation through the government approval route... http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-11-10/news/68165443_1_100-fdi-cent-fdi-tea-plantation

 

14 Nov 2015: India to allow direct foreign investment in palm oil plantations

 

India to allow direct foreign investment in palm oil plantations 11 November 2015, But a gestation period of up to five years and laws limiting the size of each palm development have hindered previous efforts to switch to the crop, putting off local farmers as well as companies such as Ruchi Soya, Cargill and Bunge. Bajoria said the government should look at recognising oil palm as a cultivation crop so that local firms can acquire land to grow it, referring to a rule that prohibits corporations from commercial cultivation of oil palm. - Reuters http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/11/11/India-to-allow-direct-foreign-investment-in-palm-oil-plantations/?style=biz

22 August 2015: Solvent Extractors’ Association calls for increase in import duty to 25 and 45%, India's rice bran oil exports to surge after easing of curbs

Solvent extractors’ association calls for increase in import duty on edible oils By Sutanuka Ghosal, ET Bureau | 21 Aug, 2015, 03.34PM IST NEW DELHI: The significant increase in import of edible oils is hurting domestic farmers and vegetable oil refiners, Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) has said and asked for an increase in import duty.  The Centre should immediately increase the import duty on crude vegetable oils from 7.5 per cent to 25 per cent and on refined vegetable oils from 15 per cent to 45 per cent, said SEA president Pravin Lunkad, so that farmers get remunerative price for their produce in the ensuing kharif harvesting season. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/solvent-extractors-association-calls-for-increase-in-import-duty-on-edible-oils/articleshow/48580008.cms

India's rice bran oil exports to surge after easing of curbs: Industry Executive Reuters Aug 7, 2015, 06.59PM IST; MUMBAI: India's rice bran oil exports could surge to 10,000 tonnes this fiscal year ending March 2016 from about 2,000 tonnes last year after the government allowed bulk sale instead of just consumer packs, an industry official told Reuters...."There is very good demand for Indian rice bran oil from countries like Japan and Thailand," said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors' Association, on the sidelines of the Global Rice Bran Oil Conference.... http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-08-07/news/65318089_1_ricela-health-foods-ltd-b-v-mehta-solvent-extractors

20 August 2015: India worries about adulterated coconut oil, coconut growers seek ban on import of palm kernel


‘Ban palm kernel oil import’ Updated: August 17, 2015 05:49 IST by R. Krishnamoorthy
Coconut growers in the region have demanded a ban on import of palm kernel oil to prevent adulteration of coconut oil.According to industry sources, price competition is the cause for adulteration. Unadulterated coconut oil cannot be sold for less than Rs. 170 per litre, whereas adulterated oil under brand names are being sold for Rs. 40 to Rs. 50 less, the sources said.
T.A. Krishnasamy, United Coconut Growers Association of South India, told The Hindu that in some brands, adulteration was up to 70 per cent. Adulteration using palm oil was easy because it was colourless and odourless, he explained.... Coconut growers, Mr. Krishnasamy said, were upset with the Centre for not following what Atal Behari Vajpayee’s government had laid down — it had banned the import of palm kernel. “The Congress-led government that came to power after the NDA government lifted the restriction and the present BJP government did not care to restore the ban,” said Mr. Krishnasamy....
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ban-palm-kernel-oil-import/article7549202.ece

10 Jan 2014: India finally increases its import duty after months of lobbying by India refiners. Tax differential between crude and refined increases from 5% to 7.5%.

 News and view from AmResearch 10 Jan 2014: Bloomberg reported that India has increased the import duty on refined palm oil from 7.5% to 10%. We are not surprised by this development as palm refiners in India have been lobbying for a higher import duty since mid-2013. At that time, the refiners had proposed an import duty of 12.5% on refined palm oil. The Indian Government has given in to the proposal of a higher import duty but at a rate of 10%. Due to the low tax differential between crude and refined palm oil, buyers in India had preferred to import refined palm oil directly instead of buying them from the refiners. It was reported that palm refiners in India were operating at low utilisation rates of only 30%. Companies operating palm refineries in India include Wilmar Adani and Ruchi Soya Industries. We believe that the increase in import duty would not significantly affect the demand for palm oil. India would still be buying palm oil from Indonesia or Malaysia except that there could be some switching from refined palm oil to palm oil in crude form. Currently, the import duty on crude palm oil is 2.5%. The tax differential between crude and refined palm oil would increase to 7.5 percentage points due to the higher import duty on refined palm oil versus 5 percentage points previously. 


8 Jan 2014: Editor's comment: There has been long time pressure for import duties reinstatements for India and more recently, a study on the potential impacts of a 20% palm oil tax on health. We summarise the key findings here and we will report on responses from palm oil health specialists in due course. This is likely to be a contested issue.



India palm oil refiners have faced worsening margins and they have pressed for the reinstatement of import duties. “What would be the likely outcome if a scenario of 10 percent import duty on CPO and 20 percent import duty on RBD oil were imposed? Based on past experience, this would not any significant impact on the domestic production of oilseeds” (MPOC Fortune, Mar 2013).

But what impact on the import mix? Medical researchers simulate the effects of a 20% food tax on palm oil on serum cholesterol and mortality from coronary heart disease and strokes in India (Basu, BMJ 2013). Using Indian National Sample Survey data the price elasticities of demand it calculates: a) for each 1% increase in the price of palm oil, consumption of palm oil decreases by 0.71%, b) for a 1% increase in the price of palm oil, the cross elasticities suggest a 0.70% rise in rapeseed and mustard seed oil consumption and a 0.67% rise in groundnut oil consumption.

The Basu study's health findings, including cholesterol reduction 1.7-2% and 0.8-1.6% reduction in heart disease and stroke mortality, will no doubt be contested. It warns that “palm oil taxes might have adverse effects on net energy consumption, food security, or both.” It also points out that “other interventions... dietary sodium reduction (lowers cardiovascular mortality by about 5%), tobacco use restrictions (25% reduction), and increased use of aspirin, statins, and antihypertensives (5% reduction) would have higher impact than a palm oil tax.

Obesity and the food industry (update 1a): "The men who made us fat" - UK documentary

So what really causes us to be fat? Has the food industry led us into addiction?


7 December 2014: The Truth about Fat in Time

The Truth About Fat by Michael Lester @moikl, June 12, 2014; "When you want to lose weight or get healthy, what is the first thing you would normally cut from your diet? If you said fat, you’re not alone.... For years, the advice from the USDA has been to reduce the level of saturated fat in your diet, in order to lower your overall cholesterol. However, a new meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has thrown that whole approach in to question.... The removal of fats from our diet has led to an increase in consumption of carbohydrates and processed low-fat alternatives, which has contributed to record levels of diabetes and obesity.... When you consider that most low-fat or non-fat products are laden with salts, sugars and preservatives, continuing to seek out fat-free alternatives could be doing you more harm than good...." http://time.com/2861540/fat-and-carbs-diet-guidelines/


7 December 2014: "The men who made us fat" - UK documentary

At a dinner party last night, this documentary was pointed out to me. Another guest noted that she had concluded from reading: 80% of being overweight is due to what we eat and 20% to exercise. Have we been mistakenly led by the food-exercise industry into upping our consumption of highly processed foods, supplements and exercise products? Is it just all about calorie control and getting back to basic food (and less sugar and carbohydrates)?

UK made documentary. The documentary maker says: On the obesity disease. Those responsible for a revolution in our eating habits. Decisions made behind closed doors changed food into an addiction. How business changed the shape of the nation. How the food industry choreographs temptation. Those who turned eating food into an epidemic....  Introduction of dietary guidelines: food industry willing to concede on fat, not sugar. Invention of low fat food, sold as better for you. Turning the attack as a business opportunity. Fat was replaced with sugar. Low fat doesn't mean it's not fattening. Snackwells was a marketing triumph.....The increase in portion size...Overconsumption is killing us...  ; BBC Two - The Men Who Made Us Fat - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01k0fs0; youtube vids here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_810093&feature=iv&index=1&list=PLA0E2B2461B536A26&src_vid=6UaUQ0H8crQ&v=iE-H__aIEFE


Rewind TV: The Men Who Made Us Fat; Britain in a Day; Dead Boss by Phil Hogan, Sunday 17 June 2012 00.05 BST; "Jacques Peretti asked why we have become the size of Fiat Puntos....
Watching Jacques Peretti's interesting The Men Who Made Us Fat, it struck me that filming a documentary about obesity in Britain must be much easier than 40 years ago, when being huge was a rarer novelty than having a wooden leg. Today, with a quarter of the population officially the size of a Fiat Punto, it seems all you have to do is put a camera in the high street and wait for someone – perhaps a grazing couple – to heave into view. But this wasn't about finger-pointing. Under an MRI scanner, it turned out that even Peretti himself – a man of no outlandish width – was carrying four to five litres of internal lard. His kidneys, the doctor said, were "swimming" in it. "Is that normal?" Peretti asked, hopefully. It wasn't. It was twice that of a normal fit person (if a fit person can still be described as normal). It seemed that Peretti is what scientists call a Tofi – thin on the outside, fat on the inside. Was no one safe?.... Historically, Britain's problem (we have put on three stone since the 60s) is down to our genetic heritage as hunter-gatherers. We can't help it. We are cavemen with supermarket loyalty cards. In more recent times, though, it has been possible to blame the Americans (ahead of the game in so many ways) for introducing industrial-scale farming in the 70s. Flooding itself with cheap food seemed a good idea at the time and produced the added bonus (or, as we now see it, unintended consequence) of vast surpluses of corn, which in turn led to the miracle food of high-fructose corn syrup.... It was what the American sweet tooth had been aching for. A third cheaper than sugar, corn syrup was soon in everything on the national menu, from ketchup to burger buns to processed meats to pizza toppings. But most of all it was in fizzy drinks, today the single biggest source of calories in the US. In movie theatres and sports arenas, "cups" grew to the point where it is now thought perfectly unremarkable to stagger to your seat with the equivalent of a window-cleaner's bucket. How did everyone get so thirsty? The answer was that corn syrup was not only cheaper than sugar, it was also sweeter. And food manufacturers give generously..... Other opinions were available, with grinning spokespeople from the food companies telling us that having sugar in everything was a healthy part of a balanced diet, which I believe is what they used to say about cigarettes. As much as anything, this film (the first of three) was the story of corporate chicanery, political surrender and cowed scientists whupped into silence. When New York mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced plans to restrict sales of supersize beverages, it may have looked as if he'd just woken from a 30-year sleep ("Gosh, where did all these massive people spring from?"). But it highlighted the success of powerful commercial interests down the decades in keeping the lid on the problem with sugar, while diverting concerns over heart disease uncritically towards saturated fats. In the 80s, "healthy" snacks – yoghurts, spreads and biscuits, low in fat but packed with the natural goodness of sugar – were all the rage. It took us a long time to find out why even joggers were getting red in the face for nothing....." http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2012/jun/17/men-made-us-fat-review



Singapore introduces canola subsidy to cut its palm oil consumption (update 1)


3 August 2014:

EU Report Taxes on High Sugar Salt or Fat Products do Lead To Reduced Consumption, 29 Jul 2014
http://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/EU-Report-Taxes-on-High-Sugar-Salt-or-Fat-Products-do-Lead-To-Reduced-Consumption.html; "The study was able to confirm a number of impacts of food taxes on the agri-food sector competitiveness. Food taxes lead to an increase in administrative burden, notably if the tax is levied on ingredients or if the rules defining which products are liable under the tax are highly differentiated and complicated... The degree to which individual competitiveness is affected is highly influenced by the product category that is taxed (as brand loyalty may be strong enough to prevent consumer switching) and by whether many similar products escape tax (which makes substitution to non-taxed products easier).... A common argument against food taxes is that they raise the price of goods relative to the prices of the same goods in neighbouring countries where no such tax exists and thereby promote cross-border shopping. However, the study found that increases in cross border shopping were rather limited and that other factors, in particular other taxes on food/drinks, are more important drivers for the cross-border shopping effect...."

Food taxes are gaining more interest, including on sugar. Some news links here: /khorreports-palmoil/2014/06/sugar-food-tax-ideas.html

Responses from some readers from the palm oil industry to the Singapore news article include:
  • Reader A: "They imply saturated fats are bad at ANY amount. People should be educated to realise that BALANCE is important. MPOB and Brandeis university came up with the optimal formula, which was marketed by Smart Balance to great success and this formulation comprised equal proportions of saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated oils. In other words, saturated fats are required but the proportion must be correct. A simple analogy to illustrate the importance of of balance in so many things we do. Exercise is beneficial, but if one were to exercise without adequate rest, that would not be good. Same goes for saturated fats. Studies have shown that saturated fats in palm oil does not seem to have same effect as other saturated fats in clogging arteries etc. This observation has not been explained scientifically yet. Past data on saturated fats were associated with animal fats (vegetable oils only displaced lard etc in a big way starting about 40 years ago). Palm oil (and other vegetable oils) saturated fats have slightly different molecular structure, and scientists think this may be the reason why why palm oil saturated fat does not display have adverse effect on health as animal saturated fats do."
  •  Reader B: "I am not a human nutrition expert, a notoriously difficult science,  but  from the MPOC website, I saw this apparently positive set of results from an experiment at UM http://www.palmoilhealth.org/news/research-news/what-really-happens-to-your-cholesterol-when-you-use-a-cooking-oil-blend/ and also  there has already been a response  http://www.todayonline.com/voices/canola-oil-mix-may-not-be-healthier-palm-oil which appear to indicate that it may be wrong to push that the cooking oil blend pushed by the Singaporean authorities is healthier. Furthermore there is this statement on MPOC's website " Malaysian red palm oil has a neutral effect on cholesterol. Its effects on blood cholesterol levels are similar to olive oil, and better than common cooking oil blends." http://www.palmoilhealth.org/faq/red-palm-oil/. However it appears specifically to refer only to red palm oil and not the usual refined product." 


2 August 2014:
Ever since French legislators proposed a "Nutella Tax" on palm oil and it was defeated, palm oil producers breathed easier. However, a recent move by Singapore, the key financial and trading hub for Southeast Asia (located alongside mega palm oil producers Indonesia and Malaysia) questions the health aspects of palm oil and uses a subsidy (instead of a tax) to make canola oil more attractive to be blended for cooking oil usage in the city state. Analysts worry that this move by Singapore, with its well regarded bureaucracy, sends a negative signal. It is not only developed markets looking at "fat taxes" or its variants. A 2013 paper by Basu et al.* in the British Medical Journal notes that 43% of India's current population consume palm oil in their home; the paper looks into the cost-benefit of taxes to constrain palm oil usage in India. For pricing reasons, alternative oils have recently been gaining some ground in India. 
*They simulate the effects that a 20% food tax on palm oil would have on serum cholesterol and mortality from coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease in India. The modeling approach combines an economic model of household consumption with a health micro simulation model that translates changes in oil consumption arising from the tax into changes in mortality from myocardial infarction and stroke.
 
 
News item: HPB to Subsidise Healthier Cooking Oil at Food Joints Oil subsidies to promote healthier fare at food joints - HPB wants food outlets to buy palm-canola mix of cooking oil By Salma Khalik, The Straits Times, 14 Jul 2014; "TO MAKE eating out healthier for food-loving Singaporeans, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) will be spending millions a year on subsidies to get food joints to use healthier oil. Starting this month, the HPB will absorb the difference in cost between palm oil - which is generally used by food outlets - and a healthier mix of palm and canola oil, which costs 20 per cent to 30 per cent more. The HPB is subsidising wholesale oil suppliers to get them to sell the healthier mix to restaurants, hawker stalls and other food outlets at the same price as palm oil. The aim is to get 20 per cent of food outlets to switch from palm oil to the canola mix by 2020. Palm oil is the cheapest cooking oil and costs around $6 to $8 for a two-litre bottle in retail shops. But it has 50 per cent saturated fat, clogs up the arteries and can lead to heart attacks and stroke. The canola and palm oil mix reduces the fat saturation to 38 per cent. The HPB hopes that this will make a huge difference to diners' health - provided they do not use it as an excuse to eat more deep-fried food. Said Mr Zee Yoong Kang, HPB's chief executive officer: "By the time the oil gets down to the individual plate, we're being literally poisoned for one or two cents a plate. "But if you sell 5,000 plates, it makes an appreciable difference to the bottom line."..... Health Minister Gan Kim Yong had said in Parliament last week that the Government would work with community partners to make healthy living as "effortless as possible".... Ms Ong (of Sime Darby, Singapore) suggested using soya oil instead, as it costs less than half the price of canola. But Prof Henry said soya does not have the same heart-healthy benefits as canola, which contains omega-3, omega-6 and alpha-linolenic acid...."

Background on France "palm oil free" and tax proposal, from Khor Reports' Palm Oil e-newsletter Mar/Apr 2013:
 
Some are unconvinced by sustainable palm oil and have questions on health impacts. In 2012, palm oil faced a strong negative campaign in France. The three‐prong anti‐palm oil campaign uses classic tactics. We can call it the “shun it, tax it, ban it” combination.

Shun it, tax it … “Palm oil free” products were being launched and gaining traction in the EU markets, especially in France where the “Nutella Wars” were playing out in the latter part of last year. The chocolate hazelnut spread, made by the Ferrero Group, was facing a challenge by a similar new product made by the Casino Group, which was marketed prominently as “sans huile de palme”. The Casino Group has been aggressive in switching its food products to other vegetable oils. It reports: “In 2011, the Casino brand had 312 items without palm oil, or 62% of its food offer. The removal of palm oil is continuing and should reach 72% by 2012. In the case of non‐food products… the Group has been using the RSPO supply line since March 2011.” Casino claims that its brands have a 50% market share in France. Green campaigners also encouraged the Mayor of Paris to ban palm oil from use in schools and in government contracts. This should have a domino‐effect, to push others to do likewise. At the same time, the French Senate Committee on Social Security proposed an amendment for a tax of EUR 300 per MT on palm oil. On top of the existing tax of EUR 100 per MT in France, the amended tax would amount to EUR 400. This was dubbed the “Nutella tax.” The campaign against palm oil in France was based primarily on claims that palm oil is bad for health and the environment.
 
The defence. The anti‐palm oil campaign has been unravelling. In June 2012, a case was brought by smallholder farmers from Cote d’Ivoire to the Tribunal de Commerce in Paris against Systeme U’s
advertising campaign against palm oil which said “No to palm oil, yes to low prices. But not if it costs the earth.” In December 2012, the French retail cooperative (comprising about 800 independent hypermarkets and supermarkets) was ordered to end its misleading advertisements. Systeme U was to cease all further dissemination of anti‐palm oil advertisements or be subject to a penalty of EUR 3,000 per infringement. The French Senate's “Nutella tax” amendment was defeated in its own chamber, and in the National Assembly. Representations were made by delegations visiting from Malaysia and Indonesia. Various food manufacturers such as Ferrero and Carrefour also publicly defended palm oil usage. Malaysian smallholders also spoke out.

US transfats demise

Palm oil sits about mid-point in fatty acid composition; it is semi-solid or half solid and half liquid. 1 in 6 food products it but Dr Kalyana Sundram of the Malaysia Palm Oil Council (PIPOC presentation, 22 Nov 2013) notes a surfeit of emotion in calling palm oil bad for health. Food labelling requirements are on the rise while campaigners “re-invent” the association of palm oil with health issues (several large medical studies find no / no significant association; other studies find palm olein reduces cholesterol as effectively as olive and canola / rapeseed oils). This is sometimes done in combination with sustainability issues; to significant effect in the Francophone world.

Hydrogenation takes a liquid oil, including soybean, to make it solid, creating transfats in the process. Post-World War Two, Unilever incorporated it into margarine. In the 1980s, food industries reformulated to avoid palm oil and the USA and Europe were awash with transfats. Mensink & Katan (New England Journal of Medicine, 1990) showed that margarines were not healthy as transfats increase the risk of heart disease. Harvard Medical School work also challenged hydrogenated oils in the 1990s and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concurred. Manufacturers reformulated to reduce transfats. The FDA sought evidence for the promotion of palm oil on no-transfats grounds. Sundram’s 2001 study showed that it is safer to eat saturated fats than transfats. US palm oil use boomed, exceeding 1.2 million tonnes. The only reliable commodity substitute was (still is) palm oil.

In November 2013, challenged by a legal suit the US FDA removed its “generally regarded as safe” / GRAS status for transfats. In a single serving food manufacturers were allowed 0.49 grams of transfats (serving sizes were cut to comply). Transfats is now regarded as an additive and not a food ingredient. This is expected to boost palm oil demand in the US market by another 150,000 tonnes in 2014. When will others move on transfats?
Look out for Khor Reports' Palm Oil Newsletter #6, Jan/Feb 2014! This article is a sneak preview article from this issue.