Ukraine crisis may impact import of sunflower oil to India

Sunflower oil supplies to India could be affected due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Indian sunflower oil makers say shipments to India are likely to be hit and this could also result in an increase in prices of palm oil and soy oil.

According to the price monitoring cell of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, the price of refined sunflower oil in the retail market has shot up to Rs 162.79 per litre, compared with Rs 145.03 a year ago. Loading of sunflower oil vessels has already been delayed by at least a week, said Sandeep Bajoria, president of the International Sunflower Oil Association. Not a single shipment of sunflower oil has left Ukraine in February, he said. “Sunoil is right now the cheapest edible oil, but buyers are sceptical about delivery. They are moving towards soy oil and palm,” said Bajoria.

India buys 17 lakh tonnes of sunflower oil from Ukraine, 5 lakh tonnes from Russia and 3 lakh tonnes from Argentina. Now if shipments stop, we will have huge shortage. Until now, shipments were delayed, but now there is uncertainty about the delivery itself,” Bajoria said.

BV Mehta, executive director, Solvent Extractors Association of India, said buyers have been struggling to secure replacement supplies after Indonesia, the top exporter of palm oil, which is the most-produced edible oil, restricted exports this year. On the other hand, drought impacted the output of soy oil in South America. Vegetable oil buyers were banking on sunflower oil, the fourth most-produced oil after rapeseed oil, to plug the supply gap. However, Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine has now raised fears of supply disruption, he said.

For the November-October (oil supply year) 2020-21, India had imported 18.93 lakh tonnes of crude sunflower oil. Of this, 13.97 lakh tonnes were from Ukraine alone. Argentina exported 2.24 lakh tonnes and Russia exported 2.22 lakh tonnes to India. India expects 1.5 lakh-2 lakh tonnes of sunflower seed oil imports between February and March from Ukraine. The global price ranges about $1,500-$1,525 per tonne. There is sufficient stock of sunflower oil in India for the next two months. India imports about two to three lakh tonnes of sunflower seed oil per month.

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