The country has 21 lakh tonnes (lt) of edible oils in stocks while 12 lt in transit and is expected to arrive this month will help ensure there is sufficient availability in the lean period, the government said Sunday. Nevertheless, it is keeping a close watch on the prices of cooking oils and will take necessary measures when required, the Food Ministry said.

According to official data, palm oil (all-India average) in the retail market has increased to ₹157.17/litre as on April 30, up 2.5 per cent from a week earlier and in the wholesale market, the increase is over 3 per cent. When current rates are compared with prices a fortnight ago, the hike is 3.6 per cent in retail and 4.4 per cent in the wholesale markets.

After some flip-flops, Indonesia on April 27 announced a ban on the export of crude oil palm, RBD palm oil and used cooking oil and also made it effective from the very next day while making it clear that the restriction will last until domestic cooking oil prices ease.

“The Department of Food and Public Distribution is monitoring the price and availability situation and meetings are held regularly with major edible oil processing associations to discuss a further reduction in the domestic prices and maximum retail price (MRP) to give relief to consumers,” the statement said.

A close watch is being kept on a day-to-day basis on prices of edible oils so that appropriate measures can be taken to keep a check on prices for ensuring that the rates remain stable, it said.

Weekly meetings being held

“The Inter-Ministerial Committee held weekly on agri-commodities chaired by Food Secretary closely monitors the prices and availability of agricultural commodities including edible oil keeping in view the interest of the farmers, industry and consumers,” the Ministry said.

Special teams have also been constituted by both Central and State governments to prevent hoarding and profiteering. The surprise checks by these teams shall continue to check unscrupulous elements, it said.

Palm oil (crude and refined) constitutes roughly around 62 per cent of the total edible oils imported by the country and is imported mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia. Soyabean oil, with a 22 per cent share in import basket of cooking oils, is imported mainly from Argentina and Brazil and Sunflower oil, with a 15 per cent share, used to come from Ukraine and Russia before the war.

International prices of edible oils are under pressure due to a shortfall in global production and an increase in export tax/levies by the exporting countries. The estimated production of 37.14 million tonnes (mt) of oilseeds during 2021-22 (July-June) includes 12.61 mt of soyabean and 11.4 mt of mustard.