Sustainable palm oil suppliers concerned about European Farm-to-Fork strategy

The European Union’s (EU) proposed Farm-to-Fork Strategy (F2F) may have negative global implications, warns the CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Datuk Dr. Kalyana Sundram. His exclusive interview with FoodNavigator-Asia was among the top 10 most-read Asia-Pacific food and beverage industry stories in August 2020. 

Datuk Sundram voiced his concerns for not just the palm oil industry but for all food producers exporting to the European market. “The issue here is that we are sure this is not going to be just applicable to produce that is generated in the EU, but all produce entering the EU would be subject to this too, as they have become part of the EU food chain given how highly globalized the world has become,” he told FoodNavigator-Asia. 

The overarching question, according to Datuk Sundram, is, “How much control can they actually put and impose on foreign producers? Do they want to be the ‘global police’ per se for agricultural standards in other countries too? Subscribing to the F2F concept would need all these questions answered.”

Focusing specifically on palm oil, Datuk Sundram commented: “What is most worrying is that in this strategy, nothing has been made clear if existing sustainable palm oil certification standards such as those by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) or our local Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification will be accepted by the system.”  

Expressing apprehension about the EU wanting to set up its own certification system, he remarked: “As a producer country, I am definitely concerned over how much control and legislative oversight the EC is looking to have over agricultural producers that export to the EU, [as] we are also legislated by local legislations.”