Ministry asked to withdraw POF labelled products from market

The House Commission therefore regretted the entry into the Indonesian market of a POF labelled snack product.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Commission IV on food affairs of the House of Representatives (DPR) has called on the Trade Ministry to withdraw imported palm oil free (POF) labelled products from the market.

Commission IV Deputy Chairman Viva Yoga Mauladi said here over the weekend that the POF labeling was a form of anti-palm oil campaign launched by the European Union and the United States.

The House Commission therefore regretted the entry into the Indonesian market of a POF labelled snack product.

Viva said the Indonesian government was developing palm oil-based commodity as a strategic product.

The presence of a POF labelled product in the Ranch Market outlets in Jakarta is proof that the trade ministry has been unaware of it and the product has entered the country beyond its control, he said.

Viva Yoga Mauladi, who is also a politician of the National Mandate Party (PAN), said that packaged food products imported by Indonesia should preferably be Indonesian palm oil-based (CPO).

This could help Indonesian oil palm farmers who control 43 percent of the countrys nine million hectares of oil palm plantations, he said.

He said that regulation on this was needed to protect the market at home from being flooded by non-CPO-based foreign vegetable oil products.

A number of countries in Europe such as France, Belgium and Italy have been imposing a regulation on the POF labeling for non-CPO vegetable oil products.

"We have sent a letter to Trade Minister Thomas Lembong to regret the entry into Indonesia of products with POF labeling. We asked that the products are withdrawn from the market," said Secretary General of the Indonesian Palm Oil Business Association (Gapki) Togar Sitanggang.

He said that the importation of the POF labeled products was counterproductive to the government efforts to popularize Indonesias eco-friendly palm oil abroad.

"This is a serious blow on the national oil palm industry in Indonesia where some 43 percent of oil palm plantations in Indonesia are owned by local farmers. Farmers also produce some 30 percent of CPO production," Togar said.

Currently, there are some four million families who are directly involved in the oil palm industry. If a family has some four to five embers, then about 16 million to 20 million people depend on oil palm plantations and industry.

Tohar said his side has found packaged snack with the POF label being sold in the Ranch Market, Lotte Avenue and Oakwood in Kuningan, Jakarta.

The products were imported from Italy.

The director general for internal trade, Srie Agustina of the Ministry of Trade, said the POF labeling indirectly discredited oil palm production. It constituted a covert negative campaign against oil palm products.

"We will check it in the field," she said.

She said labeling for a food product is allowed to provide information and increase competitiveness such as through the HCCP certification or a label for an award winner.(*)