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Trade body seeks more use of soybean oil

Efforts are being made to reduce Myanmar’s reliance on palm oil, the most popular vegetable oil in the country, according to the Myanmar Edible Oil Millers Association.

The efforts will include encouraging the public to use soybean oil instead of palm oil, U Thein Tun, second deputy chair of the association, said.

Nearly a million tonnes of palm oil is imported annually, accounting for 90 percent of the local vegetable oil market.

Oil palm plantations damage the environment, palm oil is high in saturated fats, and it lowers the demand for oil crops grown by local farmers, so it would be better if the local market used more vegetable oils produced locally, such as soybean oil, U Thein Tun said.

“Local oil millers aim to get the public to use more soybean oil than palm oil, as their prices are not that different. We will produce more soybean oil while lobbying to raise tariffs on palm oil,” he said.

“One viss (about 1.6 kilograms) of palm oil costs about K2000, soybean oil costs about K3000, and the best quality peanut oil is about K8000. So consumers choose the cheapest option. As local peanut oil is in demand overseas, its price has risen, causing local demand to drop drastically.

“As a result, many peanut oil mills have shut down, leaving only about 20 percent in business to cater to the export market,” U Thein Tun said.

Although oil crops are a priority in the National Export Strategy, imports of palm oil are still more than double export volumes, said Mandalay Region Chief Minister U Zaw Myint Maung.

“Despite increased productivity and large areas dedicated to the farming of oil-seed crops, a sound policy is needed to support the local edible oils sector. According to the latest data, the import value of edible oils is an estimated US$650 million, more than double the country’s exports of $270 million. There are 1000 oil mills in Sagaing Region, 1500 in Mandalay, and 3200 in the whole country, but only 30pc of them are operating,” U Zaw Myint Maung said.

“Myanmar’s imports of palm oil eat into the country’s foreign currency reserves, so it would be better for the local economy and farmers if we reduced our dependence on imported palm oil,” said Minister of Industry U Khin Maung Cho.

Source: Myanmar Times

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