Edible oil imports jump in February

New Delhi:

India’s edible oil imports rose 23 per cent to 9,83,608 tonnes in February, mainly due to a sharp rise in shipments of refined palm oil, industry body – the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) said on Monday.

Edible oil imports stood at 7,96,568 tonnes in the same month last year.

Total import of vegetable oils (edible and non-edible) increased to 10,19,997 tonnes compared to 8,38,607 tonnes in February 2021, the SEA of India said in a statement.

Out of the total vegetable oils imports, the edible oils import rose to 9,83,608 tonnes from 7,96,568 tonnes in February 2021.

Imports of refined palm oil increased to 3,02,928 tonnes from 6,000 tonnes.

Non-edible oil imports last month fell to 36,389 tonnes from 42,039 tonnes in the year-ago period.

The overall import of vegetable oils during the first four months of 2021-22 oil year, which runs from November-October,went up 7 per cent to 46,91,158 tonnes compared to 43,94,760 tonnes during the same period of the previous year.

The import of RBD Palmolein jumped from 21,601 tonnes to 5,19,450 tonnes, the SEA said.

In contrast, the import of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) declined from 24,89,105 tonnes to 15,62,639 tonnes, it added.

India usually imports about 1.75-2 lakh tonnes of sunflower oil per month.

“The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has disturbed sunflower oil supply. In February 2022, about 1,52,000 tonnes arrived in India and similar quantity (is) likely to arrive in March 2022, as vessels which left before the war would arrive (at) Indian ports during the current month,” the association said.

If war continues, there could be a decline in the shipment of sunflower oil in later months, the SEA said.

“However, shortfall of sunflower oil availability could be met through higher domestic availability of soybean and mustard oils,” it added.

SEA pointed out that an announcement made by the Indonesian government on March 9 to increase the limit of domestic sales from 20 per cent to 30 per cent will further reduce the Indonesian export volume and tighten the global export supplies.

“These two factors lead to high volatility in last few days in edible oil prices in the international market,” the statement said.

The Ministry of Finance has reduced the Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess on imports of crude palm oil to 5 per cent from the prevailing 7.5 per cent, thus increasing the duty differential between CPO & RBD’s oils to 8.25 per cent from earlier 5.5 per cent.

“This provided a minor relief to the beleaguered refining industry but not enough,” the SEA said.

Indonesia and Malaysia are significant suppliers of palm oil to India. Crude Soybean Degummed Oil is mainly imported from Argentina and Brazil, while Crude Sunflower Oil is imported from Ukraine and Russia.