India’s vegetable oil imports rose 33 per cent year-on- year to 18.66 lakh tonne in August due to lower duties and a revival of demand after a fall in domestic rates, according to industry body SEA.
India, the world’s leading vegetable oil buyer, imported 14.01 lakh tonne of vegetable oil in August 2022.
The country’s total vegetable oil imports during the first ten months of the 2022-23 oil year (November-October) increased by 24 per cent to 141.21 lakh tonne, when compared to 113.76 lakh tonne in the year-ago period.
According to the Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA), edible oils comprised 18.52 lakh tonne, while non-edible oils at 14,008, out of total vegetable oil shipments undertaken in August.
In total, palm oil imports reached 11.28 lakh tonne in August.
“Looking to import of edible oils in first ten months at 141.21 lakh tons, it will not be surprised to see a record import of over 160 to 165 lakh tons during current oil year ending October 2023,” it said in a statement.
India’s highest import was 151 lakh tonne in 2016-17, it added.
Citing reasons for the rise in imports, the industry body said despite ample domestic availability, a sharp drop in domestic edible oil prices has reignited demand, as reflected in the August data.
Crude palm oil imports rebounded, regaining competitiveness against soybean and other oils, totalling 8.24 lakh tonne in August, slightly down from 8.41 lakh tonne in the previous month, it said.
“This influx of imports is driven by the current low 5.5 per cent duty on crude palm oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil, transforming India into a prime destination for excess oil supplies,” it added.
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.