Palm oil industry veteran Carl Bek-Nielsen has been appointed as the new chairman of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, an organisation tasked with promoting the market expansion of the country’s palm oil and its products.
Bek-Nielsen is vice chairman and chief executive director of mid-sized Malaysian plantation firm United Plantations and has been a Council Member of the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) since 2005.
Until early this year, he was also the co-chair of the industry sustainability certification group Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a post he has held since 2014 when he was appointed to the board as a representative of the Malaysian Palm Oil Association. He decided not to seek re-election in January after nine years in the job.
“[Bek-Nielsen] has extensive experience in the Malaysian palm oil industry, having previously served on the MPOC Board and is therefore well versed with the challenges and issues that the industry faces,” said MPOC in a statement.
He served as a council member of the MPOC from 2005 to 2020 and sat on the Programme Advisory Committee to the government agency Malaysian Palm Oil Board, from 2008 to 2019.
“In his new role as the chairman of MPOC, [Bek-Nielsen] will continue to focus on the sustainability of and social improvements in the Malaysian palm oil sector, ensuring the trade doors remain open for the world’s largest agri–commodity, as the industry moves towards its goal of producing sustainable palm oil,” it added.
Bek-Nielsen was not available for comment at press time.
“We are very pleased to work with Dato’ Carl Bek–Nielsen in addressing the challenges and issues facing the industry,” said MPOC’s chief executive officer, Belvinder Kaur Sron. Sron been promoted to the role of CEO last month, having held the post of deputy CEO since 2016.
Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil producers, which collectively make up more than 80 per cent of global palm oil production, are expected to face a decline in production over the next few years due to a slow down in planting activities, say experts. Leading palm oil analyst Thomas Mielke said that palm oil production has “lost its growth dynamic”, with dry weather phenomenon El Nino expected to add further pressure to yields this year.
To add to that, the European Union’s new deforestation-free regulation is also expected to affect imports of the crop from its largest producers. Malaysian palm oil smallholders have protested the law, with industry growers saying that it could render sustainable palm oil certification irrelevant.
Bek-Nielsen’s appointment as MPOC chairman is effective 1 May 2023. He succeeds politician Larry Sng, who had been appointed as council chairman in October 2021. Sng had replaced another politician as chairman, former chief minister of the state of Johor Omar Sapian, who had held the post since May 2020.
Bek-Nielsen is also the Honorary Consul General of Denmark for Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur, as well as the Honorary Consul of Denmark to Perak, Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Selangor, and Terengganu.
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