India’s vegetable oil imports rise 3.5% at 155.5 lakh tonne in 2018-19: SEA

India’s vegetable oil imports increased by 3.5 per cent to 155.5 lakh tonnes in 2018-19 marketing year ended October, due to increase in inward shipments in refined oils, according to industry data. Imports of vegetable oils (comprising edible and non-edible oils) stood at 150.26 lakh tonnes in the previous year.

While shipments of edible oil increased to 149.13 lakh tonnes in the 2018-19 marketing year (November-October) from 145.16 lakh tonnes in the previous year, the imports of non-edible oil grew to 6,36,159 tonnes from 5,09,748 tonnes during the period under review, Solvent Extractors’ Association said in a statement.

Import of refined oil has sharply increased to 27.31 lakh tonnes compared to 21.36 lakh tonnes during the same period last year.

SEA expressed concern over the growth in imports of non-edible oil at an “alarming level” from 1.9 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 to 6.4 lakh tonnes during 2018-19, which is around 35.47 per cent of compounded annual growth rate (CAGR).

“This is mainly due to much lower duty on Palm Stearin and P.F.A.D at 7.5 per cent against 40 per cent import duty on crude palm oil, the raw material to produce P.F.A.D. & C.P.S,” it added.

During the last five years, SEA, said that the overall import of edible oil increased at a CAGR of 0.84 per cent.

Imports of refined palmolein jumped from 16.6 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 to 28.7 lakh tonnes in 2016-17 due to unfavourable duty difference between crude and refined oils. Then, shipments decreased in 2017-18 to 21.3 lakh tonnes but again rose to 27.3 lakh tonnes in 2018-19.

“Import of crude palm oil drastically reduced from 77.2 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 to 65.3 lakh tonnes in 2018-19, due to higher import of RBD Palmolein. Soybean oil import is stagnant at around 30 lakh tonnes (except 2015-16), while sunflower oil import is rising year by year and touched highest in 2017-18 at 25.2 lakh tonnes,” SEA said in a statement.

During oil year 2018-19, palm oil import (both crude and refined) increased to 94.09 lakh tonnes compared to 87.01 lakh tonnes during the last year. Soft oil (soyabean, palm and rapeseed etc) import decreased to 55.04 lakh tonnes from 58.16 lakh tonnes.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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