Edible oil imports fell by 23% in the first quarter of the 2023-24 oil year.

While edible oil imports fell by 23 percent in the first quarter (November-October) of the 2023-24 oil year, the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) indicated that edible oil prices may rise this year due to lower prices production, global economic problems and supply constraints. Data collected by the SEA showed that India imported 36.47 lakh tonnes (lt) of edible oil from November 2023 to January 2024, compared to 47.46 lakh tonnes (lt) in the same period last year, a decline of 23 percent. Import of palm oil decreased by 17 percent from 30.84 liters to 25.46 liters. The import of soft oil fell by 32 percent from 16.61 liters to 11.01 liters.

However, the share of palm oil imports in total edible oil imports increased to 70% (65% a year ago) and the share of soft oils decreased to 30% (35%). Refined oil (RBD palm olein) imported 6.67 liters (6.32 liters) during the review period. However, 29.80 liters (41.13 liters) of crude edible oils were imported, a decrease of 28 percent. The share of refined oils (RBD palm olein) increased to 18% (13%). The share of crude edible oils fell to 82% (87%). SEA General Manager BV Mehta said the currently low edible oil prices could rise this year due to reduced production, global economic challenges and supply constraints.

Supplies are dwindling

He noted that the availability of palm oil for cooking oil needs has decreased as the two largest producers, Malaysia and Indonesia, divert it to biodiesel production, which he said could cause prices to rise this year. World palm oil production could be seasonally low in January-March 2024, forcing stockouts in both producing and importing countries. Citing Oilworld, he said that the soybean oil market is currently moving from deficit to oversupply, and the latter mainly reflects strong future growth in Argentina’s export shipments. “In India, sunflower oil imports will decline this season due to lower overall import requirements and soybean oil market share recovery.

Major exporters

Indonesia and Malaysia are the major suppliers of RBD palm olein and CPO to India. In the first quarter of 2023-2024, Indonesia exported 9.61 liters of CPO and 6.14 liters of RBD palm olein. Malaysia exported 7.29 liters of CPO and 53,127 tonnes of RBD palm olein. Crude refined soybean oil, India imported 2.14 liters from Brazil and 1.91 liters from Argentina. India imported 2.32 liters of crude sunflower oil from Romania, 1.60 liters from Russia, 1.19 liters from Argentina and 42,990 tonnes from Ukraine.

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