Palm Oil

The Lempert Report
May 04, 2022

Phil: I'm very concerned about what's gone on with Indonesia. So Indonesia last week expanded its embargo to exports of Palm oil. And while on the surface, you would say, oh, who cares? Well, the reality is that Indonesia is the world's largest supplier of Palm oil. And just about every snack food has Palm oil, just about, I think about 50% of all of our processed foods have it in it, and this is gonna create a huge problem for major food companies, Unilever, Nestle, P,&G, Ferrero, Mondeliez. All these major companies, because they're gonna have to resource, which is gonna cost them more. Palm oil is also a really good ingredient to manufacture foods. It's easy to, to process on it. 

Phil: So we're gonna have, you know, some major problems. In fact, Tobin Corey who's the director of agriculture strategy at the Commonwealth bank of Australia said that this band "is one of the biggest acts of agriculture nationalism so far during this surge of food prices." So I think we're gonna see more of it. What bothers me also, besides, you know, playing politics with food, which is, I think what we're gonna see because of Russia because of Ukraine. Now, because of Indonesia is, I remember Phil Sokolof and this goes back 20, 25 years ago, where Phil had had a heart attack. He was an industrialist out of Omaha, made a lot of money. And what his doctor told him is, you know, avoid Palmetic oils like coconut oil, like Palm oil and so on. And he took full page ads out in the New York times, Wall Street Journal, USA today, talking about the evils of that, but, you know, because of the cost of Palm oil, the texture, the lack of it, you know, bottom line is manufacturers have been drawn to it. 

Phil: And, you know, we don't really hear the story about Palm oil whether it's good or bad for us anymore. So, you've got the nutrition side and you've got this, you know political side of it. And I think that if I was the CEO of a major food company, now I'd be really worried about, you know, my recipes, because, don't forget, it's not just, you know, getting rid of Palm oil, it's changing all the packaging. It's figuring out how to make those recipes. It's changing what's on every retailer's website, as far as ingredients go nutritional information. So this is a really big deal. 

Sally: Yes it is. And, and it goes beyond the food products. It also, you know, retailers should know that about 70% of beauty and cosmetic products have Palm oil in it too. So they have a huge need for this ingredient in that whole world. It definitely seems like it it's going to, that companies are going to take a hit because of it. But I did read that it is predicted that this might just go on for a month. So if that's the case, then maybe we can get through it to recover quickly. 

Phil: Yeah. So Indonesia's gonna have a reality check when they don't have any money coming in because they're not exporting.