Supply of palm oil at risk as Sabah has shut estates, say refiners

Sabah has told estates and mills in six districts to shut until April 14 after some workers tested positive for Covid-19.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian palm oil refiners have urged Sabah to revoke an order to shut some plantations, as the prolonged closure would have “dire consequences” for the supply of the world’s most-consumed edible oil.

When palm fruits can’t be harvested, refiners will have no supply of crude palm oil to be made into cooking oil and other baking fats that are essential food products, Jamil Haron, chairman of the Palm Oil Refiners Association of Malaysia said in a statement Saturday.

The lack of crude palm oil supply would also force refineries to shut, leading to layoffs and disruption in supply of edible oil in the local market, he added.

The group echoes calls made earlier by palm producers Genting Plantations Bhd and FGV Holdings Bhd after Sabah’s state government told estates and mills in six districts to shut until April 14 after some workers tested positive for Covid-19.

Sabah has 1.54 million hectares of oil palm planted area, more than 21 times the size of Singapore.