The Indonesian government’s decision to ban export of palm oil and the subsequent revoking impacted India’s imports in May. While palm oil imports declined by 10.22 per cent, compared with April, import of soyabean oil and sunflower oil increased by 36.57 per cent and 117.69 per cent, respectively.
According to Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) data, India imported 5.14 lakh tonnes (lt) of palm oil (including refined palm oil and crude palm oil) in May, against 5.72 lt in April.
BV Mehta, Executive Director of SEA, said palm oil stock is high in Indonesia, and storages are full.
Attributing this to the restrictions imposed by the Indonesian government over the last two months, he said this created confusion and uncertainty. Indonesia finally lifted the ban, with conditions, from May 23, and reduced export tax from $575 a tonne to $488 to stimulate export.
“This will increase export from Indonesia, which will have dampening effect on the price in the world market. This can be seen in the continuous downfall in prices in the international market over the past few days,” Mehta said.
Indonesia supplied 26,459 tonnes of crude palm oil (CPO) to India in May, as against 2.60 lakh tonnes in May 2021, and 85,180 tonnes (575 tonnes) of RBD palmolein. Malaysia, another major supplier of palm oil, exported 2.20 lt (3.92 lt) of CPO and 15,550 tonnes (1,500 tonnes) of RBD palmolein during the month.
During the first seven months of the oil year November 2021-October 2022, Indonesia exported to India 5.78 lt of CPO and 6.80 lt of RBD palmolein; and Malaysia exported 16.50 lt of CPO and 3.33 lt of RBD palmolein.
Mehta said the import of RBD palmolein jumped to 10.21 lt during November-May from 26,176 tonnes in the year-ago period mainly due to a high export levy on CPO ($575) and a lower duty on RBD palmolein ($408) by Indonesia. This saw Indonesian exporters discount RBD palmolein to push its export.
India’s import of soyabean oil increased by 36.57 per cent to 3.73 lt in May, against 2.73 lt in April. Import of sunflower oil increased by 117.69 per cent to 1.18 lakh tonnes, against 0.54 lt in April.
Mehta said the Indian government reduced effective duty on crude soyabean oil and sunflower oil from 5.5 per cent to nil with a tariff rate quota (TRQ) of 20 lt each, while the duty on CPO remained unchanged at 5.5 per cent. “The price structure in the world market and import duty advantage will facilitate larger soya oil import in the near term,” he said.
In May 2022, India imported 2.05 lt (1.90 lt) of crude soyabean degummed oil from Argentina and 1.25 lt (77,000 tonnes) from Brazil.
During the first seven months of the oil year 2021-22, India imported 16.21 lt of crude soyabean degummed oil from Argentina, 6.21 lt from Brazil, and 1.59 lt from the US.
In the case of sunflower oil, import from Ukraine was nil in May 2022 as against 1.43 lt in May 2021. Import from Russia went up to 41,000 tonnes in May 2022 as against 18,617 tonnes in May 2021.
Argentina sunoil gains
To make up for the loss from Ukraine, Indian importers preferred Argentina to meet their sunflower oil requirements. Export of sunflower oil from Argentina increased significantly by 383.66 per cent to 64,530 tonnes during May, against 13,342 tonnes in May 2021.
During the first seven months of the oil year 2021-22, India imported 8.42 lt of crude sunflower oil from Ukraine (before March). This was followed by 2.51 lt from Russia and 1.20 lt from Argentina.
Palm vs soft oils
In the total edible oil import basket, the share of palm oils decreased to 37.39 lt (50 per cent) during November-May from 45.61 lt (61 per cent) in the same period a year ago. However, the share of soft oils in the total edible oil imports increased to 38.08 lt (50 per cent) during November-May of 2021-22 from 29.21 lt (39 per cent) in the corresponding period of the oil year 2020-21. Mehta attributed this growth in soft oils to the increased import of soyabean oil during the period.
Total edible oil import
India’s total edible oil import (including palm oil and soft oils) increased to 10.05 lt in May against 9 lt in April 2022, up 11.72 per cent. However, India’s total edible oil import was at 12.13 lt in May 2021.
India imported 75.48 lt of edible oils during the first seven months of the oil year 2021-22, against 74.83 lt in the year-ago period.