Crude palm oil tops shipments

Our Bureau

Mumbai, April 17

Breaking away from the modest volumes of the previous four months, March witnessed a spurt in vegetable oil imports. Arrivals aggregated 4.01 lakh tonnes (versus 2.69 lakh tonnes in February), according to data released by Solvent Extractors' Association of India.

Imports last month broadly comprised 2.0 lakh tonnes (lt) of crude palm oil; 1.70 lt of crude soyabean oil; and 67,000 tonnes of refined palmolein. Others included small parcels of refined sunflower and soyabean oils, crude palmolein and sunflower oils.

With this, vegetable oil imports aggregated 14.5 lt during the first five months of the oil year 2005-06 beginning November 2005, compared with 16.9 lt during corresponding period previous year.

SOARING VOLUMES

Apparently, import volumes soared last month after the much-speculated customs duty changes in the Union Budget did not materialise and prices of both soyabean oil and crude palm oil softened in the overseas market. A large crop of rabi oilseeds is currently under harvest. Rapeseed/mustardrates are below the minimum support price of Rs 1,715 a quintal. How the Government held one-year old stocks of over 15 lt are going to be disposed of remains uncertain.

FINANCIAL BURDEN

Carrying costs and quality deterioration of the produce are sure result in huge financial burden for the Government.

International market has so far remained largely consumer friendly with adequate supplies of palm and other oils.

Palm oil output in Malaysia even during the so-called lean months (January-March) is not showing signs of a big slowdown. Flow of South American soyabean is pressuring prices. The much talked about bio-diesel demand is yet to materialise on a scale that can impact the present sentiment. Prospects for the next soyabean crop in the US are rated bright as per planting intentions survey. Beginning May, the market would largely be weather driven.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 18, 2006)
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