India Breaks Edible Oil Import Records in July Amid Festive Season Preparations

India Reports Record High Edible Oil Imports in July

India, the world’s largest importer of vegetable oils, witnessed a surge in edible oil imports in July, reaching a record high of 1.76 million metric tonnes. Refiners increased purchases ahead of upcoming festivals due to uncertainty over supplies from the Black Sea region, according to five dealers who shared the information with Reuters.

The higher imports of vegetable oils could have several implications. Firstly, they could help lower palm oil stocks in major producing countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, thereby supporting benchmark futures. Additionally, it might strengthen soyoil futures and reduce inventories in sunflower oil-producing Black Sea countries.

Notably, India’s average monthly edible oil imports during the 2021/22 marketing year stood at 1.17 million tonnes, as reported by the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA). In June, India imported 1.3 million tonnes of edible oils.

Palm oil imports showed a significant increase, rising from 683,133 tonnes in June to 1.09 million tonnes in July – the highest in seven months, according to average estimates from the dealers.

The rise in palm oil imports was influenced by the widening discount of palm oil over soyoil and sunflower oil, prompting refiners to increase purchases ahead of the festive season, explained Sandeep Bajoria, CEO of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage and consultancy firm.

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis has led importers to maintain substantial oil reserves to ensure adequate stocking and avoid potential shortages, stated Rajesh Patel, managing partner at GGN Research, an edible oil trader, and broker.

Sunflower oil imports also saw a significant jump, increasing by 73% compared to the previous month, reaching 330,000 tonnes – the highest in six months. However, soyoil imports fell by 22% to 340,000 tonnes in July, which was attributed to delays in unloading vessels at Kandla port.

India’s palm oil purchases mainly come from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, while soyoil and sunflower oil are imported from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Russia, and Ukraine.

The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India is expected to release its official data on July’s vegetable oil imports by mid-August. The ongoing uncertainties surrounding supplies from the Black Sea region and the geopolitical situation continue to influence India’s import decisions for edible oils.

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