India's Palm Oil Imports Drop Sharply In May

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By Shakir Husain

NEW DELHI, June 14 (Bernama) -- India recorded more than 36 per cent drop in its palm oil purchases in May compared with April, leading to a record fall in palm oil's share in the overall monthly Indian vegetable oil imports, according to trade data.

The country imported 496,478 tonnes of palm oil in May compared with 778,884 tonnes during the previous month, the Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) said on Thursday.

For the first time, Indian monthly import of soft oils -- soybean, sunflower and rapeseed -- was higher than palm oil, which constituted just 40 per cent of all vegetable oil imported last month.

In the previous six months, palm oil's share was between 57 and 68 per cent.

The import of sunflower oil at 330,985 tonnes in May was highest in any single month since India started importing edible oils in 1994, the trade group said.

SEA added that vegetable oil imports during May 2018 were about 1.28 million tonnes compared with 1.38 million tonnes in the same month in 2017.

The seven per cent drop in May from the same month a year ago was attributed to new import duties, depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar and a credit crunch in the market.

SEA said prices of edible oils have gone down between three and ten per cent in the global market in one year due to healthy supplies but the rupee's decline by nearly five per cent in one year has nullified the advantage of lower price for Indian importers.

India's monthly requirement of vegetable oils was about 1.9 million tonnes and the country relies heavily on imports.

Palm oil is the single largest item in Indian vegetable oil imports.

Record high stocks of edible oils at Indian ports were also seen putting pressure on domestic prices.

The stocks at the beginning of June was estimated at one million tonnes, of which crude palm oil accounted for 320,000 tonnes and RBD palm olein 170,000 tonnes.