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Malaysia’s palm oil producers adjust to labour shortages, higher recruitment costs

Hellenic Shipping News, 13 December 2021 - Malaysia’s palm oil producers are racing to adjust to an acute shortage of workers due to the coronavirus and sharply higher costs of recruitment as they make changes in response to accusations of forced labour.

The country, second only to Indonesia in palm oil production, has become more competitive in recent months due to higher export levies imposed by its southern neighbour. But mounting employment costs mean Malaysia risks losing that edge and potentially ceding market share to Indonesia.

The increased costs, alongside record-high fertilizer prices affecting both countries, pushed the key commodity to an all-time high in October. That has already forced up the price of the foodstuff worldwide, and is raising the costs of cosmetics and detergents and other products that palm oil is used in.

The most pressing problem for palm oil producers such as FGV Holdings and Sime Darby Plantation is a lack of workers to harvest palm trees, a skilled and dangerous task.

“The current issues are an extreme manifestation of the fact that as incomes grow and workers, with greater options of urban employment, become less able or willing to do manual labour, attracting them to the plantations will become more difficult,” said Julian McGill, head of South East Asia at LMC International. “Soon there will be no ‘cheap’ labour.”

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Source: https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/malaysias-palm-oil-producers-adjust-to-labour-shortages-higher-recruitment-costs/

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