MUMBAI: India, the world’s second largest importer of vegetable oil, imported 44% less edible oils in February as producers processed more oilseeds locally.
Imports declined to 150,927 tonnes in February from 269,050 tonnes a year earlier, the Solvent Extractors’ Association said on its website.
The drop in imports may weigh on prices of palm oil produced by Malaysia and Indonesia, and on soyabean oil from Argentina and Brazil. Malaysian palm oil futures, which gained 26% in the past six months, fell on Friday, while soyaoil also declined after rising 22% in six months.
“The decline in imports was because of higher availability of local oil,” Govidlal G. Patel, director of Dipak Enterprises, a vegetable 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, soyabeans and rapeseed, may decline 16% to 23.62mt in the 12 months ending 30 June from a year earlier, the agriculture 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 1.08mt in the four months ended February from 1.05mt 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 807,402mt, 53% higher than a year earlier. Imports of crude palm oil in February fell 19.5% to 107,137mt from a year earlier.
Soyaoil imports in the four-month period fell 55% to 162,990mt, while February imports fell 81% to 18,000mt, the extractors’ association said.
Malaysia and Indonesia produce 85% of the world’s palm oil. The US, Brazil and Argentina grow 80% of the world’s soyabeans.
Palm oil, typically used as cooking oil or in soaps, can be mixed with diesel to stretch fossil fuel supplies.Soyabean oil is used in salad dressings as well as in making biodiesel.