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The Palm Oil question.

Something we get occasionally. And it is an important question. Consumers should be paying more attention to the ingredients used in their skin and hair care.  In light of these, our Australian, Penang Island-based Chief Formulator, Dr Mike Thair, responds below.

However, before responding it is necessary to provide my credentials. Often criticisms come from those with little or no experience or knowledge of environmental issues. In fact, many have never seen a Palm Oil plantation. I am an Australian scientist, lecturer, and international advisor.  My work over the past 40 years has included advising Governments, companies, and Development Banks (World Bank, Asian Development Bank, etc.) globally. Furthermore, my work is in-country on environmental issues associated with mining, agriculture, and urban development. Also, as a scientist and advisor internationally, my work is on the ground dealing with issues, and not in some distant office.

Yes, I have witnessed the environmental havoc created by these plantations. In particular, Indonesia.

The Indochine Natural response is:

We only purchase Palm Oil from Peninsular Malaysia.

Palm is an excellent ingredient, adding hardness to bars.

Our oil comes from long-established plantations. They have set these up since pre-Malaysian independence. Therefore over 60 years. And there are many smallholder palm plantations that are the lifeblood of many families. Smallholders are farmers who grow oil palm, alongside subsistence crops, where the family provides the majority of labour and the farm provides the principal source of income, and the planted oil palm area is less than 50 hectares.

Our Palm Oil comes from RSPO plantations.

All the ingredients we use must have a laboratory Certificate of Analysis (CoA) linked to a unique Lot Number. Every ingredient used in our products is traceable back to the source. Each ingredient is linked with laboratory analysis performed by external labs plus our own in-house labs. We have our own microbial lab and a physical chemistry lab.

Under these conditions, I am confident about our sourcing and sustainability.

On the negative side, yes there are challenges. However, I believe we can better influence others by setting high sustainability standards.

For example, more than 3 million smallholders and small-scale farmers make a living from palm oil globally. While their farmlands are small compared to industrial plantations, smallholders account for about 40% of total global production, making smallholders significant contributors towards a sustainable oil palm industry.

They often have to cope with inadequate information and knowledge in growing palms and selling oil, while their yields are also typically relatively low. The sharing of information will have a positive impact on these farmers.

Now let’s talk about the sustainability

Palm Oil is the lifeblood of smallholders. In fact, smallholders manage 40% of the total oil palm planted area in Malaysia.  Ordinarily, a smallholder with a planted area of 3.9ha can earn a monthly net income of between RM2,000 and RM2,100. In any event, these are not the farmers who clear fell thousands of hectares and create environmental devastation. As a matter of fact, these smallholders are well supported by local NGO’s in becoming RSPO certified.

Notably, the success of sustainable commercial oil palm planting provides an effective tool to eradicate poverty. Especially in the rural area and create employment opportunities in the agriculture sector.

In conclusion,  I welcome questions and comments. Please contact me ([email protected])

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Dr Mike Thair

Co-Founder & Master Formulator

Indochine Natural Sdn Bhd

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