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The Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) on Sunday said that the government will be meeting all states and Union Territories on Monday through video conferencing to review the action taken on the stock limit order on edible oil prices.

The DFPD is monitoring the prices of edible oils and their availability to consumers. This is especially important to the context of the upcoming festival season in which demand for edible oils will increase.

On October 10, the Centre had imposed stock limits on traders of edible oils and oilseeds, barring certain importers and exporters, till March 31, in a bid to control domestic prices and provide relief to consumers. 

State governments and union territories were to decide the stock limit to be imposed on edible oils and oilseeds after taking into account the available stock and consumption pattern of that particular state or UT. 

According to an official statement, the Department of Food and Public Distribution will be meeting all States/UTs on Monday, October 25, 2021, through video conferencing to "review the action taken on the stock limit order on edible prices." 

In a letter written to all states by Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey on Friday, the department outlined initiatives taken by the Centre to ease prices of edible oils for the relief of consumer and keeping the festive season in mind. 

The department is "monitoring the prices of edible oils" as well as the domestic supply, the statement said. "This is especially important to the context of the upcoming festival season in which demand of edible oils will increase," it added. 

The Centre has already taken various steps to cool down the high prices, including sharp reduction in import duties of palm oil, sunflower oil and soyabean oil. 

That apart, the department said that stock disclosure notification has been issued and a web portal has been created to monitor the stock of edible oils/oilseeds on a weekly basis in the country. 

The department noted that the demand of edible oils varies in different states/UTs as per the preference of the consumers. "However, for finalizing the stock limit quantity of edible oils and oilseeds, the states/UTs may consider/explore the previous stock limit imposed for edible oils and oilseeds by the state/UTs," the department said. Any stakeholder (refiners, miller, wholesaler etc.) should not hold the stocks in excess of two months of the storage capacity, it suggested the states. 

"For guidance states may prefer to indicative limits which may have been imposed by states earlier...," the statement said. As an example, the Department said that, for refiners, stocks of maximum of 2 months of the average scale of last six months could be used. 

Similarly, quantities for extractors/millers should be fixed. On Friday, the Centre said it was hopeful that key oilseeds- and edible oil-producing states would start imposing stock limits from the next week. 

The average retail price of mustard oil on Friday was ruling at 185.55 per kg, groundnut oil at 182.86 per kg, sunflower oil at 168.21 per kg, soya oil at 154.91 per kg, vanaspati at 138.31 per kg and palm oil at 132.64 per kg. 

Prices have fallen by 3-4 per kg following the recent cut in import duty. During November 2020 to September 2021 (11 months), the imports of vegetable oils increased 2 per cent to 1,24,70,784 tonnes compared to 1,22,57,837 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous year. 

Out of the total vegetable oil imports, edible oil imports rose to 1,20,85,247 tonnes from 1,19,50,501 tonnes. Non-edible oils rose to 3,85,537 tonnes from 3,07,333 tonnes. Vegetable oils marketing year runs from November to October. 

Indonesia and Malaysia are the major suppliers of refined palmolein and crude palm oil to India. India imports crude soybean oil mainly from Argentina and Brazil, while crude sunflower oil is shipped from Ukraine, Russia and Argentina.

With agency inputs

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