India's palm oil imports rose 29% in Nov.-Sept. of 2022-23 oil year: SEA

According to the SEA, despite ample domestic availability, a sharp drop in domestic edible oil prices has pushed demand, as reflected in the August and September data

Updated - October 13, 2023 07:44 pm IST

Published - October 13, 2023 07:42 pm IST - New Delhi

FILE PHOTO: A worker loads fresh fruit bunches of oil palm tree into a wheelbarrow during harvest at a palm oil plantation in Kuala Selangor, Selangor, Malaysia.

FILE PHOTO: A worker loads fresh fruit bunches of oil palm tree into a wheelbarrow during harvest at a palm oil plantation in Kuala Selangor, Selangor, Malaysia. | Photo Credit: HASNOOR HUSSAIN

India's palm oil imports jumped 29.21% to 90.80 lakh tonne in the first 11 months of the ongoing 2022–23 oil year compared with the year-earlier period, with RBD Palmolien shipments rising fast, posing a serious threat to the domestic refiners, industry body SEA said on Friday.

India, the world's leading vegetable oil buyer, imported 70.28 lakh tonne of palm oil products during the same period in the the previous oil year.

Meanwhile, the country's total vegetable oil imports rose 20% to 156.73 lakh tonne during the November–September period of the 2022–23 oil year, from 130.13 lakh tonnes in the year-earlier period.

In September, however, the country's vegetable oil imports witnessed a 5% decline, dropping to 15.52 lakh tonne from 16.32 lakh tonne in the same period the previous year.

"During November 2022 and September 2023, the import of palm products increased sharply due to price parity. The share of palm oil increased to 59%," the Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) said in a statement.

However, crude palm oil imports got a little setback against soybeans and other oils, totalling 7.05 lakh tonne in September this year, down from 8.24 lakh tonne in the previous month, it added.

The palm oil basket includes RBD Palmolein, Crude Palm Oil (CPO), Crude Olein, and Crude Palm Kernel Oil (CPKO).

According to the SEA, despite ample domestic availability, a sharp drop in domestic edible oil prices has pushed demand, as reflected in the August and September data.

The SEA also noted that per capita consumption has increased with falling domestic edible oil prices in recent months.

"The import of RBD Palmolein has surged, constituting over 25 per cent of total palm imports. This surge has severely impacted the refining industry, which is grappling with massive overcapacity," it added.

The overall refined oils (RBD Palmolein) imports reached 20.53 lakh tonne during the November–September period of the 2022–23 oil year, up from 17.12 lakh tonne in the year-ago period. This is seriously affecting the workings of the domestic palm oil refining industry, according to the SEA.

In the case of soft oils, the SEA said inbound shipment of sunflower and soybean oils sharply increased in the last six months. The overall import during the first eleven months of the current oil year stood at 63.87 lakh tonne, compared to 56.35 lakh tonne in the year-earlier period, the SEA said.

As of September 1, there was a stock of 37.35 lakh tonne of vegetable oils at various ports and in pipelines.

India imports palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia and a small quantity of crude soft oil, including soyabean, from Argentina. Sunflower oil is imported from Ukraine and Russia.

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