India imported 15.28 lakh tonnes (lt) of edible oil in November, against 13.65 lt in October, a growth of 11.92 per cent.

Imports increased by 34.24 per cent in the first month of the 2022-23 oil year (November to October). Imports of edible oil increased to 15.28 lt in November 2022-23, against 11.38 lt in November 2021-22, data from the Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India showed.

B.V. Mehta, Executive Director, SEA of India, said India imported 9.31 lt of CPO in November against 7.56 lt in October, recording a growth of 23.05 per cent. November’s CPO import was the highest for a single month.

India’s import of RBD palmolein increased to 2.02 lt in November, against 1.27 lt in October, a growth of 58.07 per cent.

During November, India imported 2.83 lt of CPO and 29,900 tonnes of RBD palmolein from Malaysia; and 5.19 lt of CPO and 1.72 lt of RBD palmolein from Indonesia.

Stating that the excessive import of RBD palmolein hits domestic refiners, Mehta said the current import duty difference of 7.5 per cent between CPO (5 per cent) and refined oil (12.5 per cent) encourages import of refined palmolein, as opposed to CPO.

Palmolein imports increased by 168 per cent during the just concluded oil year 2021-22, he said, adding, the import of RBD palmolein crossed over 2 lt in November alone.

“Needless to say, the import of finished goods is contrary to our national interests and affects the capacity utilisation of our palm refining industry. The main reason for the rise in palmolein imports is the encouragement given by exporting countries (Malaysia and Indonesia) to their industry. They have kept high export duties on CPO and low export duty on palmolein (finished product). The import duty difference of 7.5 per cent levied by India between CPO and palmolein is insufficient to block palmolein imports,” he said.

SEA has recommended that the Government create 15 per cent duty difference between CPO and RBD palmolein by increasing import duty on RBD palmolein from 12.5 per cent to 20 per cent, he said. This would help reduce palmolein imports and replace the same with CPO imports.

Stating that overall imports into the country would not be affected and it will have no impact on edible oil inflation, Mehta said on the contrary it will help improve capacity utilisation and employment generation.

Soft oil imports drop

Total palm oil imports (including CPO and RBD palmolein) increased to 11.41 lt in November 2022-23, against 5.39 lt in November 2021-22, and the import of soft oils decreased to 3.87 lt in November 2022-23, from 5.99 lt in November 2021-22. The share of palm oil increased to 75 per cent in 2022-23, from 47 per cent in 2021-22, and soft oils decreased to 25 per cent in 2022-23, from 53 per cent in 2021-22.

India’s import of crude soyabean oil came down to 2.29 lt in November from 3.34 lt in October, recording a decline of 31.42 per cent. India mainly imported crude soyabean degummed oil from Argentina (1.51 lt), followed by Brazil (78,229 tonnes).

India had imported 4.74 lt of crude soyabean oil in November 2021.

However, India’s import of crude sunflower oil increased to 1.57 lt in November, against 1.44 lt in October, recording a growth of 8.81 per cent. India imported 75,500 tonnes of crude sunflower oil from Ukraine, 42,574 tonnes from Russia, and 10,000 tonnes from Argentina.

India had imported 1.25 lt of crude sunflower oil in November 2021.

India’s import of vegetable oils (including edible and non-edible oils) increased to 15.45 lt in November 2022-23, against 11.73 lt in November 2021-22, recording a growth of 10.64 per cent. However, the import of vegetable oils was at 13.96 lt in October 2022.