Retail giant PT Carrefour Indonesia is now selling cooking oil that is the nation’s first palm-oil derivative to be certified by a global sustainable management standards organization.
The certification and sale of the cooking oil, which obtained the imprimatur of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil ( RSPO ), would silence critics who equated oil palm exploitation with environmental destruction, Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi said at the launch in Jakarta on Monday.
“This newest product has proven we can do otherwise,” Bayu told reporters.
The deputy minister said the government had hopes the locally made oil product would eventually be sold in Carrefour’s overseas outlets, claiming there was no excuse for nations such as Belgium, France or the Netherlands to reject the product.
PT Carrefour Indonesia spokesman Satria Hamid Ahmadi said the company cooperated with PT Musim Mas, one of the palm oil industry’s major players, to produce the cooking oil.
The product has been priced at Rp 23,000 ( US$2.46 ) per 1.8-liter container. Carrefour Indonesia put 72,000 units on sale as of Monday, and the firm hoped to sell 30 percent of its stock by August, when consumption increases during the Ramadhan fasting month and the run up to the Idul Fitri holiday, Satria said.
“Currently, we are in talks with countries such as Malaysia, India, Taiwan and China to export the cooking oil product. We are planning to start selling the product to them by the end of this year” he said.
RSPO Indonesia director Desi Kusumadewi said that the organization was expecting that certified palm-oil sales by Carrefour Indonesia, which has 84 outlets across the nation, would inspire other giant retailers such as hypermart and Giant to follow suit.
“Among the members of RSPO Indonesia, none of them are retailers. We are hoping that this launch will trigger more CSPO products in the future,” she said.
Fadhil Hasan, the executive director of the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association ( Gapki ), said there were still challenges facing retailers who wanted to sell RSPO-certified products.
“Unlike the European market, our market has yet to develop an awareness of the importance of buying so-called sustainable products. But at least this paves a way to balance the RSPO commitment, for it has usually been on the shoulders of the producers,” Fadhil said.
Indonesia’s RSPO-certified crude palm oil production stood at 3.05 million tons, or 48 percent of global production, as of mid-July, topping Malaysia, which produced 2.75 million tons, or 43 percent of the global total, in the same period, according to the RSPO.
Meanwhile, Musim Mas corporate affairs manager Togar Sitanggang said the company was planning to open more refineries amid government support for increasing the export of domestically processed products.
PT Musim Mas currently operated 12 refineries and 8 factories on 100,000 hectares in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Sitanggang added. ( asa )