Palm oil is the most traded oil in the world due to its demand and versatility in both food and non-food (e.g. oleochemicals and biofuels) applications. Malaysia is the second largest producer of palm oil in the world and the oil palm industry contributed RM 67.6 billion in 2016 in export earnings. It is important for the industry to remain viable and competitive taking into account its importance to the economy of the country. However, for Malaysian palm oil, one of the challenges faced is competition from other palm oil producers (mainly Indonesia) and competition from other vegetable oils traded globally such as soyabean, sunflower seed and canola oils. Therefore, there is a need to continually explore potential growth markets to ensure that there is sufficient demand for Malaysian palm oil. Eastern Europe is a promising growth market due to inter alia opportunities arising from the break-up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Countries in Eastern Europe include Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovakia and Ukraine. Driving factors for potential market growth in the region are the possible substitution or replacement of the traditional vegetable oils and fats used in the food sector, price and availability of supply, health benefits of vegetable oil, and sustainability.
* Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB),
6 Persiaran Institusi, Bandar Baru Bangi,
43000 Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia.