India’s edible oil import bill has gone up by 118 per cent in the past two years. Data available from the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) showed the value of imported edible oil at ₹1.56 lakh crore during the oil year 2021-22 (November-October) against ₹1.17 lakh crore in 2020-21, an increase of 34 per cent.
However, India’s edible oil import bill was at ₹71,625 crore during the oil year 2019-20. With this, the value of edible oil import went up by 118 per cent from 2019-20 to 2021-22.
BV Mehta, Executive Director of SEA of India, said rupee was quoted at ₹81.35 for one dollar as on November 10, which has made the edible oil import a little expensive.
SEA’s data showed the average price of dollar, which was at ₹74.92 during October 2021, stood at ₹82.29 during October 2022. The average price of dollar was at ₹73.56 during October 2020.
Up again in Q4
India imported 140.3 lakh tonnes (lt) of edible oil during the oil year 2021-22 against 131.3 lt during 2020-21, recording a growth of 6.85 per cent. India had imported 131.8 lt of edible oil during the oil year 2019-20.
Mehta said the import gradually increased during first two quarters and slowed down in the third quarter. However, it increased again in the fourth quarter due to lifting of the ban on palm oil by Indonesia and due to the sharp decline in international prices. These factors boosted buying from India.
In fact, India imported a maximum of 43.34 lt of edible oil during the fourth quarter of the oil year 2021-22 against 36.07 lt (Q1), 29.35 lt (Q2), and 31.52 lt (Q3).
The opening stock of edible oils was 17.23 lt as on November 1, 2021. However, the opening stock was at 24.55 lt as on November 1, 2022. Mehta said India needs about 19 lt of edible oil per month. Stating that the country is currently operating at 40 days stock, he said this is the highest inventory held by India.
CPO shipments drop
Import of RBD palmolein sharply increased to 18.4 lt during the oil year 2021-22 against 6.86 lt in the previous year. This increase was at the cost of the reduction of import of CPO (crude palm oil). Import of CPO reduced to 59.9 lt during 2021-22 against 74.9 lt in 2020-21.
On the sharp increase in the import of RBD palmolein, he said Indonesia was discounting the RBD palmolein over CPO. While CPO attracted higher duty, RBD palmolein attracted lesser duty.
Malaysia was the major supplier of CPO at 29.60 lt and RBD palmolein at 5.64 lt during the oil year 2021-22. This was followed by Indonesia at 22.24 lt of CPO and 12.54 lt of RBD palmolein.
Soyabean oil imports gain
In absence of a lesser supply of sunflower oil in the previous year, the import of soyabean oil jumped to 41.7 lt during the oil year 2021-22 against 28.7 lt in 2021-22. India mainly imported crude soyabean degummed oil from Argentina (25.75 lt), followed by Brazil (12.51 lt).
Import of sunflower oil was pegged at 19.44 lt during the oil 2021-22 against 18.94 lt in 2020-21. Prior to Russia-Ukraine conflict, India mainly imported crude sunflower oil from Ukraine (9.44 lt). However, Russia (4.42 lt) was the major supplier of sunflower oil to India from April onwards. Post-April, even Argentina (3.93 lt) also supplied a larger quantity to India.
Mehta said the highest volatility in palm oil prices affected India’s palm oil buying during the oil year 2021-22. Palm oil was as expensive as soft oils for a brief period in March-April. During May-June, palm oil availability was further affected due to Indonesia’s decision to ban exports. As expected, India’s palm oil buying plunged and import of soft oils rose, he said.
Palm oil import decreased to 79.15 lt during the oil year 2021-22 against 83.21 lt in the previous oil year. Soft oil imports increased to 61.15 lt during 2021-22 from 48.12 lt in 2020-21. With this, the share of palm oil in the total edible oil basket decreased from 63 per cent to 56 per cent, and the share of soft oils increased from 37 per cent to 44 per cent.
The overall import of vegetable oils (including edible oils and non-edible oils) increased to 144.1 lt during the oil year 2021-22 against 135.3 lt during 2020-21.