India Palm Oil Imports Up by Over 15pc in 2020-21 Marketing Year

Oleochem Analytics – India’s palm oil imports increased by 15.23pc in the 2020-21 marketing year compared to the previous year as a result of a reduction in crude palm oil (CPO) import duties and the lifting of restrictions on refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD) palm olein imports, according to the national trade body Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA).

India imported 8.32mn t in the recently concluded marketing year, the trade body said in their latest data release. The marketing year of vegetable oil, which comprises edible and non-edible oils, runs from November to October.

The new data showed that palm oil regained market share in India’s vegetable oil market after shrinking in 2019-20 as a pandemic-led national lockdown halted eating out activities as well hotel businesses across the country. Palm oil is the preferred oil in India’s hotels, restaurants and catering sectors as it is cheaper than other edible oils, has a longer shelf life and is stable at high temperatures used in frying.

In a move to limit rising edible oils prices, India has reduced import taxes on edible oils four times since June 2021 and eased restrictions on the import of refined palm oil products such as RBD palm olein.

India, the world’s largest importer of palm oil, accounted for 34pc of 2020 global CPO imports, according to the World Bank’s US World Integrated Trade Solution. To meet domestic demand, India has to import about 56pc of its edibles volume to fulfill consumption.  

Indian vegetable oil imports for the marketing year ended in October maintained the second lowest level in the last six years, up by 0.23pc to 13.531mn t from 13.525mn t a year ago, according to SEA.

India imports unrefined vegetable oils to its network of port-based warehouses and refineries to complement its domestic supply of edible oils. The country’s annual palm oil imports range between 8-9mn t, which usually accounts for anywhere between 50-60pc of total vegetable oil imports, followed by soybean oil and sunflower oil.

According to the SEA, the stocks of edible oils as of 1 November at various ports in India is estimated at 565,000t and pipeline stock at 1.14mn t, bringing the total to 1.705mn t. The stocks have decreased from 2.005mn t from 1 October, SEA said.

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