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Indian Edible Oil Imports Rise 8% in June; Virus-Led Lockdown Disrupts Palm Oil Demand

7 Jul 2020 4:20 pm
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Mumbai (Commodities Control) - India's edible oil imports rose 8% to 1.16 million tonnes in June, Solvent Extractors Association of India said on Tuesday, replenishing the pipeline that got depleted as the coronavirus lockdown curbed overseas purchases in previous months.

But imports during the current marketing year until June fell 15% to 8.05 million tonnes, dragged down by refined, bleached and deodorised (RBD) palmolein purchases which fell 79%, according to the Solvent Extractors Association of India.

India's palm oil imports in June fell 18% from a year ago to 562,932 tonnes as imports of refined palmolein plunged after New Delhi restricted overseas purchases of the grade earlier this year, a leading trade body said on Tuesday. Meanwhile palm oil during November 2019-June 2020 was registered at 4.21 million tonnes vs 6.08 million tonnes of imports from November 2018-June 2019.

However, imports of soft oils during Nov’19-Jun’20 were registered at 14% higher at 3.83 million tonnes as compared with 3.37 million tonnes imported during the corresponding period last year.

The country's imports of soyoil in June rose 49% from a year ago to 331,264 tonnes, while sunflower oil imports rose 66% to 268,128 tonnes, according to provisional data compiled by the Solvent Extractors' Association.

Oil industry sees palm oil demand in India is set to plunge this year as coronavirus lockdowns slash food service sector demand and households opt for alternatives at the supermarket.

India's palm oil imports could plunge 20% from a year ago to 7.5 million tonnes in the 2019/20 marketing year ending on Oct. 31, said Angshu Mallick, deputy chief executive of Adani Wilmar.

That would be the lowest imports since 2010/11, according to data from India's Solvent Extractors Association (SEA).

Palm oil became the most widely used and imported oil but mainly for bulk buyers such as food processors and for use in restaurants. Indian households typically opt for premium alternatives such as sunflower oil and that has left palm vulnerable as lockdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have reduced food consumption outside the home.

The impact of the shuttered food courts and street vendors is compounded by reduced demand at retail stores.

(Commodities Control Bureau)

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