New Delhi: India’s edible oil imports are expected to rise by 11% in February from the month before on the back of tighter domestic supplies, a Reuters survey showed on Thursday.
India, the world’s second-largest importer, is likely to buy 3,10,000 tonnes of edible oils in February, up from 2,80,000 tonnes in January, according to the median estimate of five import houses polled.
“There is a shortage of supplies. Now the only major oilseeds crop left is mustard, and that will only come in March,” said one trader.
“We have to definitely import more palmoil as it is the cheapest oil.”
The survey forecast February palm oil imports at 2,60,000 tonnes, up 30% from January. Soft oil, mainly soy oil, imports are forecast to fall 14%.
In January, the Union government cut import duties on crude palm oil and palmolein to 60% and those on refined, bleached, and deodorized palm oil and palmolein to 67.5%, with the aim of checking inflation.
Traders said the impact of duty changes on import would be visible only in March.
“Overall oil availability will fall during the year and India will be compelled to import larger quantities of edible oils to bridge a demand-supply gap,” B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors Association of India, told Reuters.
Earlier this week, the government estimated that India’s oilseeds output during theyear ending September 2007 would dip to 23.62 million tonnes from 27.98 million tonnes a year ago.
India buys roughly half of its annual needs of 10 million tonnes in the form of palm oils from Malaysia and Ind-onesia and soft oils from South America.