Imports of vegetable oils, comprising edible and non-edible oils, fell 13% to nearly 9.12 lakh tonnes during April due to lower import of crude palm oil, according to industry data.
The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) said in a statement that import of vegetable oils stood at 9,11,846 tonnes in April 2022 compared to 10,53,347 tonnes in April 2021.
The import of edible oils fell to 9,00,085 tonnes from 10,29,912 tonnes, while shipments of non-edible oils declined to 11,761 tonnes from 23,435 tonnes.
Import of crude palm oil in April dropped to 4,14,829 tonnes from 6,89,731 tonnes in the same month last year.
Imports of vegetable oils during the first six months of this oil marketing year (November 2021 to April 2022) rose 4% to 67,07,574 tonnes. It was 64,28,350 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous oil marketing year.
Oil marketing year runs from November to October.
“Indonesia has banned export of palm oil with effect from April 28, 2022 which has queered the pitch and make life difficult for hapless consumers across the world,” SEA said in a statement.
India imports about 6,00,000-6,50,000 tonnes of palm oil per month from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and other countries.
Out of this, Indonesia supplies about 3,00,000 tonnes, mainly RBD Palmolein, while a similar quantity arrives from Malaysia and the remaining 10% comes from Thailand and other countries.
“It is expected that Indonesia may lift the ban before the end of May. However, the situation will turn ugly if Indonesia continues to ban the export of palm oil products as enough supply from other origins is not available,” SEA said.
The import of refined oil (all of refined palmoilen) jumped to 9,20,947 tonnes during the first six months of the current oil year, from 24,101 tonnes in the year-earlier period.
During November 2021 to April 2022, palm oil imports have decreased to 32,25,761 tonnes from 3,792,354 tonnes in the year-earlier period, while soft oil import has increased to 33,17,242 tonnes from 2,477,884 tonnes mainly due to higher import of soybean oil.
According to the SEA, during the oil marketing year under review, about 11.10 lakh tonnes of sunflower oil was imported by India, mainly from Ukraine (8,42,956 tonnes), Russia (2,10,905 tonnes) and Argentina (56,426 tonnes).
“No shipment took place from Ukraine since March 27, 2022. In April, sunflower oil import is reported at 54,426 tonnes only. High prices of sunflower oil in international market and lesser availability, and high domestic prices have shrunk the demand and consumption of sunflower oil in India,” SEA said.
This shortfall is partially being replaced by other edible oils like palmolein, soybean oil, groundnut oil and rice bran oil, it added.