India’s vegetable oil imports are likely to be at last year’s record at 10.2 million tonnes in the 2012-13 marketing year which began last month, on strong domestic demand, according to an analyst.

“Indian consumption is also expected to grow at a healthy pace but overall India’s imports will be about the same as the last year,” Godrej International Ltd Director Dorab Mistry said in a paper.

The vegetable oil imports from November to April may be somewhat higher than 2012, but in the later half, they will be slightly lower, he said, adding that the country would purchase more palm oil and slightly less soya and sunflower oils from the international market.

Among vegetable oils, shipment of palm oil is likely to increase to 80.50 lakh tonnes this year from 76.88 lakh tonnes in 2011-12, while sunflower oil imports to 9.50 lakh tonnes from 10.80 lakh tonnes last year.

However, soyabean oil imports are expected to decline to 10 lakh tonnes from 11.34 lakh tonnes in the review period.

On mustard crop, Mistry said: “If all goes well, India should harvest a mustard seed crop of about 6.5 million tonnes. Overall India’s production of vegetable oils should expand this year mainly on account of a higher mustard crop.”

The country started the current marketing year on November 1 with record opening stocks of 1.65 million tonnes.

In the paper, which was presented at international palm oil conference held in Bali last week, Mistry said the government could impose 10 per cent import duty on crude palm oil (CPO) and 20 per cent on refined palm oil products.

India, the world’s largest edible oil importer, has zero import tariff on CPO and 7.5 per cent on refine palm oil.

On global prices of vegetable oil, Mistry said prices are expected to remain range—bound in the first half of the year and to begin a major bear market in the second half.

(This article was published on December 3, 2012)
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