Sunflower oil imports at risk; prices soar; Russia-Ukraine war hits supplies

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has India’s domestic sunflower oil industry running out of sunflower oil stock. Additionally, shipments of cooking oil are stuck at various ports. Sunflower oil prices, which have shot up by about 25-30% in recent days, are expected to surge further. India’s 90% of sunflower oil imports come from the Black Sea region of Ukraine and Russia.

The price of sunflower oil has shot up to Rs 180 per kg from Rs 135 per kg during January-February this year. The government is trying to augment supplies by tapping imports from other countries.

In total, traders in the country have contracted imports of 5,50,000 tons of sunflower oil from Ukraine and Russia for deliveries in February and March. Amid a raging war between Russia and Ukraine, shipments of more than 3,50,000 tones of cooking oil to India are at risk as logistics and loadings remain stuck at various ports.

Traders in the country are concerned about the supply crunch and are uncertain if the shipments will reach them. “There is a fear among importers whether the contract (for sunflower oil exports) will be honoured or not.

“However, there is no need to panic about shortages since India has sufficient supply of other cooking oil such as mustard oil, groundnut oil, cottonseed oil, rice bran oil and palm oil. Even if there are shortages of sunflower oil due to supply chain issues pertaining to the conflict in Russia and Ukraine, it would not create scarcity of edible oil in the country, since sunflower oil accounts to only 9% of total edible oil consumption,” BV Mehta, executive director of Solvent Extractors’ Association of India said. India consumes about 2 lakh tones of sunflower oil per month. In the month of February, 1.5 lakh tones of sunflower oil have left for India. India will have to import Sunflower oil from other countries like, Netherlands, Hungary, Turkey, Spain and Bulgaria.

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