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KUALA LUMPUR: The world’s largest producer of crude palm oil, Malaysia’s FGV Holdings, reported on Friday a rise of 87.9% in fourth-quarter profit, boosted by higher crude prices and better sales, but flagged caution over an “eventful” 2021.

FGV said profit for the October-December period rose to 134.9 million ringgit from 71.8 million ringgit from a year earlier.

Revenue rose 27% to 4.01 billion ringgit.

“FGV anticipates 2021 to be another eventful year on the back of challenges in labour supply and volatility of crude palm oil prices in our plantation business,” group chief executive Haris Fadzilah Hassan said in an exchange filing.

The pandemic not only hit domestic and global demand, but disrupted harvesting and collection of fresh fruit bunches because of movement curbs, he added. The firm vowed to tackle accusations of labour abuse on its plantations levelled by US customs and industry watchdog the Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

“FGV is taking a systematic approach in ensuring the rights of workers are respected and protected,” it said, adding that it would continue to engage with the US customs after appointing an independent audit firm.

The U.S agency banned imports of palm oil from FGV last year over the accusations, prompting some buyers to block the company from their global supply chains.

RSPO also suspended sustainability certification for some FGV plantations after it fell short of labour standards.

“RSPO is currently conducting its verification audits to assess FGV’s progress in implementing the complaints panel’s directives,” FGV added.

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