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Southeast Asia, explained

Malay farmers riled by French anti-Nutella tax

Why Southeast Asian palm oil producers resent the French government
Malaysia nutella tax 2012 11 14Enlarge
A worker sorts palm bunches before processing them at a factory on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November 4, 2009. Malaysia is the world's second-largest exporter of palm oil. (SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Depending on who you ask, palm oil is either a wonderous, vitamin-rich substance or an unhealthy abomination that should be taxed out of existence.

The first perspective comes from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, which does a brisk trade with France. It just so happens that Nutella, the addictive chocolatey spread beloved in France, sources its palm oil from Malaysian farms.

The second comes from the French government which, like a fretful mom guarding the cookie jar, may soon triple its tax on palm oil to protect its citizens' arteries and waistlines. According to the Telegraph, lawmakers describe the potential tax hike as a means of forcing food makers to "replace these oils by new recipes" that are "more respectful of human health."

Nutella, the Guardian reports, will not tinker with their recipe even if the tax goes forward.

Perhaps Nutella sans palm oil would taste all wrong.

It appears that an unlikely alliance of Nutella advocates and Malaysian farmers is being born. The Malaysian Palm Oil Council, according to the Borneo Post, is now putting a pressing question to the French government: given all the butter and cheese you people eat, why do you have to slag off palm oil?

http://www.globalpost.com/globalpost-blogs/southeast-asia/malaysia-nutella-tax