Indonesia expects substantial yield increases with new oil palm materials


PT SMART Tbk, a subsidiary of Singaporean palm oil company Golden-Agri Resources Ltd, announced on May 22 that it had cultivated high-yielding oil palm planting materials that could “substantially” increase the yield from its plantations without increasing land use.

The two materials – Eka 1 and Eka 2 – were developed at the SMART Research Institute and SMART’s Biotechnology Centre, through a conventional selection programme and tissue culture from “elite palms”.

“Tissue culture helps us propagate planting materials through a non-GMO process that produces more CPO; and, in the near future, it will help to produce planting materials that make better use of nutrients and are more resistant to both disease and drought,” said SMART’s head of plant production and biotechnology division Tony Liwang.

The materials could increase SMART’s CPO yield to more than 10 tonnes/ha/year at the prime palm production age of 8-10 years, from its current yield of 7.5-8 tonnes/ha/year under optimal soil conditions, according to the company. Indonesia’s industry average yield is still under 4 tonnes/ha/year, SMART said.

“With the success to date of our tissue culture programme, we can expect to see substantially higher yields with Eka 1 and Eka 2, and greater oil extraction levels from the fruit itself,” Liwang said.

SMART expects the Eka 1 seedling to produce 10.8 tonnes/ha of CPO at prime maturity, with oil extraction levels of 32% due to increased oil ratio in the fruit, while the Eka 2 seedlings are projected to yield 13 tonnes/ha and 36% oil extraction.

Furthermore, the company expects the seedlings to reach the first harvest in 24 months, in contrast to the current industry average of 30 months.

It intends to multiply the seedling clones through tissue culture over the next five years to cultivate a sufficient quantity to plant over a larger commercial area by 2022.

SMART started developing the materials in 2007, when its research team studied more than 4,000 oil palm trees for differing varieties. Field technicians selected and bred the optimal specimens over the next 10 years.

The first clonal seedlings were planted in 2011. Following several trials and commercial pilots, Golden-Agri Resources had by 2016 planted the materials in Sumatra and West Kalimantan in Indonesia.

Source: Oils & Fats International, June 2, 2017

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Reserved dairy names barred for plant-based products in the EU

On June 14, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that plant-based products cannot be labelled with dairy names such as ‘milk’, ‘cheese’ or ‘butter’ even if the plant origin is clearly marked on the label.

The ECJ ruling gives a very strict interpretation of the EU’s rules on the use of designations reserved for milk and milk products. This was in a case brought against a German company for marketing vegetarian and vegan products labelled with dairy names such as ‘tofu butter’ and ‘veggie cheese’.

The ECJ concluded that for marketing and advertising purposes, in principle, the designations ‘milk’, ‘cream’, ‘butter’, ‘cheese’ and ‘yogurt’ are reserved under EU law for products of animal origin only.

Its ruling prohibits the use of dairy names in association with purely plant-based products unless the names are included in the EU list of exceptions. The ECJ also clarified that this prohibition applies even when the plant origin of the product is stated, because the addition of descriptive and explanatory terms cannot completely rule out consumer confusion.

The ECJ ruling is an interpretation of the EU’s Single Common Market Organisation (CMO) 1308/2013 which repealed Regulation 1234/2007. The Single CMO establishes marketing standards for milk and milk products and sets out definitions, designations or sales descriptions that may only be used for the marketing of dairy products.

By way of exception, the Single CMO allows the marketing of plant-based products under the reserved designations when the exact nature of the product is clear from traditional usage (e.g. coconut milk) and/or when the designations are clearly used to describe a characteristic quality of the product (e.g. creamy).

The EU’s first Single CMO Regulation 1234/2007 required member-states to provide to the European Commission (EC) an indicative list of non-dairy products meeting the criteria. Based on the lists submitted, Commission Decision 2010/791 – in force since December 2010 – has established a list of non-dairy products that may be labelled with reserved dairy names.

The list of exceptions is a collection of product names grouped per language (not product). Product names included in the list are not translated in all EU languages. The English-language term ‘almond milk’ for example is not included in the list, but the French, Spanish and Italian terms ‘lait d’amandes’, ‘leche de almendras’ and ‘latte di mandorla’ are.

The ECJ does not accept translations of product names included in the list as falling within the scope of authorised exceptions. The EC has clarified that, in the event of a dispute, it is ultimately for the ECJ to provide a definitive interpretation of the applicable EU law.

Source: USDA, July 11, 2017

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Nutella maker wins court battle against ‘No palm oil’ claim


A Belgian court has ruled that advertising claims about the health and environmental benefits of the palm oil-free Choco spread are illegal, in a case brought against the supermarket chain Delhaize.

Ferrero, which manufactures Nutella, took the case to court. Delhaize has been ordered not to repeat any claims about its Choco spread being better for the planet or human health, on pain of a €25,000 (£22,000) fine for each repetition.

Source:, June 19, 2017

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European chemicals agency refutes accusations linked to glyphosate

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has fired back at NGO accusations that it carried out a malicious attempt to undermine the authority of the EU’s food safety agencies and their assessment of the ubiquitous herbicide glyphosate.

The ECHA also refuted claims it breached EU regulations and colluded with the pesticide industry when assessing the carcinogenicity of the herbicide.

In March, Global 2000 – a consortium of NGOs including Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Action Network in Europe – released a stinging report. This argued that industry-funded studies showing that glyphosate is safe contained “fundamental scientific flaws” due to the omission of key data and inclusion of irrelevant data.

These studies were then used by both the European Food Safety Authority and the ECHA in their positive opinion of glyphosate.

“[The] ECHA is concerned [about] an attempt to publicly malign the integrity of EU institutions mandated to ensure safe use of chemical substances in the EU,” the Helsinki-based institution responded.

“This is of particular concern, when the process actually provides the opportunity to submit any further data and to make any science-based observations during the process.”

In making its assessment on glyphosate, it said “there was no collective preconception of whether or not the substance was hazardous for any of the end-points, let alone any collusion with industry, as alleged in the Global 2000 report”.

The ECHA’s opinion will be taken into consideration by member-countries who must vote on whether to renew the licence for glyphosate by the end of the year.

Source:, Aug 8, 2017

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