While edible oil imports declined by 23 per cent during the first quarter of the oil year 2023-24 (November-October), the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) has indicated that prices of edible oils may go up this year on lower production, global economic issues and supply constraints.

Data compiled by SEA showed that India imported 36.47 lakh tonnes (lt) of edible oil during November 2023-January 2024 against 47.46 lt in the corresponding period a year ago, recording a decline of 23 per cent.

Palm oil imports decreased to 25.46 lt from 30.84 lt , down by 17 per cent. Import of soft oil decreased to 11.01 lt from 16.61 lt, down by 32 per cent.

However, the share of palm oil imports in the total edible oil imports increased to 70 per cent (65% a year ago), and soft oils share reduced to 30 per cent (35%). During the review period, 6.67 lt of refined oil (RBD palmolein) were imported (6.32 lt).

However, 29.80 lt of crude edible oils were imported (41.13 lt), down by 28 per cent. The share of refined oils (RBD palmolein) increased to 18 per cent (13 per cent). The share of crude edible oils declined to 82 per cent (87 per cent).

BV Mehta, Executive Director of SEA, said prices of edible oils, which are currently low, may go up this year on lower production, global economic issues and supply constraints.

Supplies drop

Stating that the availability of palm oil for edible oil requirements has come down as the main two producers, Malaysia and Indonesia, are diverting it for the production of biodiesel, he said this could result in an increase in prices this year.

World production of palm oil could be seasonally low in January-March 2024, enforcing a reduction of stocks both in production and importing countries. Quoting Oilworld, he said soyabean oil market is currently in transition from shortage to more ample supplies, and the latter primarily reflecting the prospective sharp increase of Argentine export supplies. “In India, sunflower oil imports are seen diminishing this season owing to shrinking total import requirements and soya oil regaining market share,” he said.

Major exporters

Indonesia and Malaysia are the major suppliers of RBD palmolein and crude palm oil to India. During the first quarter of 2023-24, Indonesia exported 9.61 lt of CPO and 6.14 lt of RBD palmolein. Malaysia exported 7.29 lt of CPO and 53,127 tonnes of RBD palmolein.

In case of crude soyabean de-gummed oil, India imported 2.14 lt from Brazil followed by 1.91 lt from Argentina. India imported 2.32 lt of crude sunflower oil from Romania, followed by 1.60 lt from Russia, 1.19 lt from Argentina and 42,990 tonnes from Ukraine.

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