The world’s biggest palm oil producers – Indonesia and Malaysia – are looking to launch a joint campaign in Europe to counter criticism of their product, according to a Reuters report on 19 January.

Both countries had sent out a request for proposals to hire an advocacy company to run a campaign in Europe this year via the platform of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), three sources familiar with the matter reportedly said.

Europe was the third biggest market for palm oil and increasingly tight regulations there were threatening sales, according to Reuters.

Palm oil producers had been accused of clearing vast areas of biodiversity-rich rainforests in Southeast Asia and exploiting migrant workers, Reuters said. This year, the European Union (EU) was due to discuss legislation on deforestation and sustainable food systems – as part of the European Green Deal – that could restrict palm oil’s use in food and fuel.

The CPOPC was looking to launch the campaign to change perceptions of palm oil in the United Kingdom and other countries in the EU although plans had not been finalised and were subject to discussions between the producers, the sources were quoted as saying. The CPOPC, however, had not been available for immediate comment, Reuters said.

EU palms oil imports in the 2020/21 season were forecast to fall to the lowest in a decade at 6.7M tonnes, down 8% from the previous season, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).