Vegetable oil imports dropped five per cent to 8,70,328 tonnes in July against 9,13,179 tonnes during the same period a year ago. Edible oil imports were recorded at 8,48,229 tonnes (8,81,762 tonnes) and non-edible oil shipments were 22,099 tonnes (31,417 tonnes) in July, according to the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEAI) press release.

A sharp depreciation in the value of rupee against the dollar and export duty imposed by a few countries hit imports.

The overall import of vegetable oils between November 2011 and July 2012 (oil year) was up by 20 per cent at 7,265,527 tonnes (6,043,403 tonnes). Import of refined oil (RBD palmolein) was up 80 per cent to 1,325,163 tonnes against 736,985 tonnes during the same period a year ago. Share of refined oil in overall imports increased to 19 per cent, while crude oil has fallen 81 per cent.

Share of RBD Palmolein is likely to increase as current Indonesian inverted duty structure encourages larger export of refined oils (nine per cent export duty) over crude oil (18 per cent export duty) and also the gap between CPO and RBD Palmolein has reduced to $33 which was $95 a year back.

Soft oils

Palm oil product import has increased 15 per cent to 5,289,017 tonnes (4,588,474 tonnes) in the first nine months of the oil year. The import of soft oils such as soyabean, sunflower and rapeseed increased sharply to 1,815,650 tonnes (1,240,799 tonnes) as many refiners switched over to refining soft oils from crude palm oil.

Sunflower oil was the major contributor in meeting demand for soft oil, as its prices were much lower compared with soya oil. Currently, the premium on sunflower oil over soya oil is $34 a tonne. Also, India has started importing canola oil and bought about 90,758 tonnes during the last six months mainly due to lesser local crushing of rapeseed due to disparity, said SEAI.

suresh.iyengar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 16, 2012)
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