‘Crown jewels’ of palm oil

Ho and Unnithan agreed that the oil palm industry would have to step up educational and nutritional information as well as clinical trials, to expand the use of phytonutrients.

Ho described palm tocotrienols and carotenes as the crown jewels of palm oil in promoting health benefits.

Unnithan said that Carotino is able to offer palm nutraceuticals that are certified as Mass Balance and Identify Preserved by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. The Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil standard adds credibility to the commodity.

With multinational manufacturers such as Nestle, General Mills and Kraft reformulating food products with natural colours and flavours, Ho noted that palm carotenoids have great potential as a natural food colour.

Hovid, being the pioneer and largest producer of palm nutraceuticals, is working with the MPOB to get palm carotenoids approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a food additive and colourant.

The value of the natural food colourant market is projected to increase to US$1.7 billion in 2020, from US$1.14 billion in 2014.


Collaborative efforts

On public-private sector collaboration, Ho cited the example of the Tocotrienol Industry Consortium set up by the MPOB and relevant manufacturers.

It is developing a comprehensive dossier on analytical data on the palm tocotrienol complex. This will be submitted to Codex Alimentarius for review and approval, to enable palm tocotrienols to obtain global status as a safe food and supplement ingredient.

Efforts are also underway to get palm tocotrienols registered in China, as this would open up a big market. In the US, Hovid is collaborating with the Malaysian Palm Oil Council to increase awareness of palm products including tocotrinols and carotenoids.

Unnithan said Carotino has good R&D collaboration with the MPOB. Partial funding has been obtained via the government’s National Transformation Programme, to commercialise projects involving palm phytonutrients.

In addition, funding has been received for clinical trials at selected universities and research institutions worldwide.

Ho said such funding is important, to develop demand for palm phytonutrients.

“Unlike large pharmaceutical companies, smaller palm phytonutrient companies do not have the funds to support large-scale clinical trials or marketing campaigns,” he noted.

Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, RM280 million worth of grants will support downstream development of palm-based oleo derivatives, food- and health-based products and clinical trials, with RM50 million set aside for small- and medium-scale enterprises.

Source: Star Online, June 27, 2016

This is an edited version of the article.


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