By Thomas K Abraham/Bloomberg
Mumbai: India, the world’s second-biggest importer of vegetable oil, imported 44% less edible oils in February, as producers processed more oilseeds locally.
Imports declined to 150,927 metric tonnes in February from 269,050 tonnes a year earlier, the Solvent Extractors’ Association said on its Web site.
The drop in imports may weigh on prices of palm oil produced by Malaysia and Indonesia, and on soybean oil from Argentina and Brazil. Malaysian palm oil futures, which gained 26% in the past six months, fell on 16 March, while soyoil also declined after rising 22% in six months.
“The decline in imports was because of higher availability of local oil,” Govindlal G Patel, director of Dipak Enterprises, an oil trader in Gujarat, said. “Imports will pick up from next month as the domestic oilseed crop is lower.”
India’s production of oilseeds, such as peanuts, soybeans and rapeseed, may decline 16% to 23.62 million tonnes in the 12 months ending 30 June from a year earlier, the farm ministry said on 6 February. India may buy more cooking oil overseas in the coming months to bridge the expected shortfall, Patel said.
Edible oil imports rose 3% to 1.08 million tonnes in the four months ended February from 1.05 million tonnes a year earlier, according to the solvent extractors’ association, which represents about 800 oilseed processors.
Crude palm oil imports in the four month period were 807,402 tonnes, 53% higher than a year earlier. Imports of crude palm oil in February fell 19.5% to 107,137 tonnes from a year earlier.
Soyoil imports in the four month period fell 55% to 162,990 tonnes, while February imports fell 81% to 18,000 tonnes, the association said.