The Palm Scribe

IPOC 2019 Convenes Amid Low Prices and Bad Image

The Indonesian palm oil industry is due to convene the 15th Indonesian Palm Oil Conference (IPOC) later this month as the commodity continues to be plagued by low prices and is suffering from a bad image globally, being seen as a major cause of deforestation and following the recent devastating forest and ground fires that have hit the country.

The Indonesian Association of Palm Oil Producers (GAPKI) will hold the IPOC 2019 in Nusa Dua, Bali, on October 30 to November 1, 2019, taking the theme “Palm Oil Industry: Managing market, Enhancing Competitiveness”.

“Looking at what the industry has experienced in the past two years, with the low prices of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) that have influenced overall business, as well as the ongoing land and forest fires, the IPOC 2019 in Bali is becoming very important for the industry,” GAPKI Chairman Joko Supriyono told a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday (17/10) to announce the conference.

Joko said that besides of the low prices and fires, the Indonesian palm oil industry was also hit by other problems, including the European Union plan to gradually phase out palm oil-based biofuels from its transportation sector, the continuing onslaught of accusations and “black campaign” against the commodity and the industry conducted by non-governmental organisations in relations to deforestations, land clearing by fire, human rights violations and others.

Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer, exporter, and consumer with production reaching 34.7 million tons in August 2019, or 14 percent more than for the same period last year. GAPKI figures also showed that exports for the same period stood at 22.7 million tons or 3.8 percent higher than in the same period in the previous year. China and India were the largest importers of Indonesian CPO.

The country consumed 11.7 million tons of CPO in those first eight months of 2019, or a whopping 44 percent increase compared to the same period last year. Palm oil is a major contributor to revenues for the state but the low global prices and the negative campaigns against palm oil and its industry are threatening to bring down exports and revenues.

Joko said that the low global prices of palm oil made it important for the industry to find a strategy to boost the competitiveness of the commodity. The conference is expected to discuss means to develop the competitiveness of palm oil, with an emphasis on the downstream industry, the global supply, and demand for vegetable oils, global market trends, and price projections.

Head of IPOC’s committee, Mona Surya told reporters at the same occasion that the conference, which is scheduled to be opened by Ma’ruf Amin who will be sworn in as Indonesian Vice President just ten days before the gathering, will address some crucial issues in the industry, including the impact of the US-China trade war, tighter regulations in importing countries, as well as geopolitics and economy aspects that will impact the future of palm oil industry.

The conference will also discuss on 2020 price outlook and global trend, with highlights on the supply and demand of the world’s vegetable oils, and exhibition on the palm oil industry from relevant stakeholders.

Mona said that around 1,500 delegates from 25 countries are expected to attend the conference which will feature top international speakers such as James Fry from LMC International, Thomas Mielke fro Oilworld, Dorab Mistry from Godrej International Ltd, Pietro Paganini from John Cabot University of Rome, Otto Hospes from Wageningen University, Erliza Hambali from The Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) and Arif P Rachmat from the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce.

I Gusti Bagus Ngurah Makertiharth from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) will address a special session on bioenergy, with an update on the latest research on green fuel, namely the bio premium gasoline and bio avtur for aircrafts, made from CPO using the “Merah-Putih catalyst” developed by a team from the university.

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