India’s palm oil import increases by over 56% in March 2021 mainly due to high sunflower oil prices

India’s import of palm oils rose 56.50 per cent to 5,26,463 tonnes in March this year as refiners were discouraged to import sunflower oil due to high prices, industry body Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) said. India, the world’s leading vegetable oil buyer, had imported 3,36,392 tonnes palm oils in March 2020.

The country’s total vegetable oil imports rose marginally to 9,80,243 tonnes in March 2021, compared to 9,55,422 tonnes in the year-ago period. The share of palm oil is more than 60 per cent of the country’s total vegetable oil imports.

According to SEA, refiners purchased more palm oil during March due to the high prices of sunflower oil. Among palm oil products, import of crude palm oil (CPO) rose to 5,06,533 tonnes in March this year from 2,95,577 tonnes in the year-ago period, as per the SEA data.

The shipment of crude palm kernel oil (CPKO) increased to 17,430 tonnes from 9,965 tonnes in the same period. Import of RBD palmolein declined to 2,500 tonnes in March this year from 30,850 tonnes a year ago.

Among soft oils, the import of sunflower oil declined to 1,46,970 tonnes in March due to high prices as against 2,95,387 tonnes in the same period last year. Similarly, the shipment of soybean declined marginally to 2,85,200 tonnes from 2,92,996 tonne.

In the coming months, SEA said a record domestic mustard crop of 85-90 lakh tonne, and heavy demand for kachi ghani and refined mustard oil will “checkmate” the import of edible oils.

India imports palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, and a small quantity of crude soft oil, including soyabean oil from Argentina. Sunflower oil is imported from Ukraine and Russia.

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