Malaysia’s Sime Darby Bhd, the world’s largest palm oil planter by land size, says the drying effects of El Nino and a prolonged drought could lower its palm oil and fresh fruit bunch production in its current financial year.
Sime Darby Plantation has estimated that the El Nino weather effect and prolonged drought would affect about 6% of its palm oil production in Malaysia, and 8%-10% in Indonesia in the next one to two years, the company told Reuters by email.
“The recent haze would have a similar compounding impact with the prolonged dry period affecting fruits and disrupting oil extraction as well as crop production,” said Franki Anthony Dass, managing director of Sime Darby Plantations, the plantation and agri-business arm of Sime Darby Group.
Lower productivity levels in Malaysia, the world’s No. 2 palm oil producer, could help lift benchmark prices of the vegetable oil. Palm oil’s March contract closed 1.2% higher on Tuesday evening at RM2,411 per tonne, but down about 3 % since the start of the year. The Malaysian plantations-to-motor-conglomerate also expects to see a decline in fresh fruit bunch (FFB) production this year due to the El Nino impact.
Forecasts for its Malaysian FFB output stood at 5.58 million tonnes, down from 5.94 million tonnes the year before, and forecasts for its Indonesian FFB output is seen at 2.75-2.81 million tonnes, down from 3.05 million tonnes a year ago. However, overall FFB output for the group in the financial year ending June 2016 is seen up at 10.05-10.11 million tonnes from the year before, due to its acquisition of Papua New Guinea-based New Britain Palm Oil. Sime Darby recorded 8.9 million tonnes of FFB output the financial year before.
“New Britain Palm Oil is expected to contribute about 1.72 million tonnes of FFB for financial year 2015/2016,” said Dass.
Analysts have forecast declining FFB yields this year in anticipation of a dry El Nino weather impact. Sime Darby’s expectation of a 6% decline for its Malaysian operations is significant, but not totally unexpected, said Alan Lim, an analyst at MIDF Research in Kuala Lumpur.
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