Import of vegetable oils, both edible and non-edible oils, during the first two months of the oil year 2022-23 are up 30 per cent at 31.11 lakh tonnes leading to record stocks at the ports at the beginning of the calendar 2023. Imports stood at 24 lakh tonnes (lt) during the first two months of oil year 2021-22.

According to Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) data, edible oil imports during November-December 2022-23 stood at 30.84 lt (23.55 lt). However, non-edible oil imports were a tad lower at 27,129 tonnes (44,747 tonnes).

Edible oil stocks stood at ports stood at 8.92 lt as of January 1, 2023. Including the stocks in the pipeline, total stocks stood at 32.23 lt — up from 27.72 lt as of December 1.

SEA said the import of refined oil (RBD palmolein) and crude palm oil are increasing sharply as the large spread of $350-400 per tonne between palm oil and soft oils is encouraging higher imports of palm products into the country.

In the first two months of oil year 2022-23, about 4.58 lakh tonnes of refined oils were imported into the country — over five-fold increase increase over the same period previous year’s 82,267 tonnes. Refined oils accounted for 15 per cent of total vegetable oil imports during the period under review compared with three per cent in the same period last year.

Crude oil imports during the period, too, increased to 26.25 lt (22.73 lt). Crude oil’s share in the overall edible oil imports has come down to 85 per cent during November-December 2022-23 over the same period last year’s 97 per cent.

During the two months, palm oil imports sharply increased to 22.50 lt (11.05 lt). At the same time, the imports of soft oils such as sunflower and soyabean have reduced to 8.33 lt (12.50 lt). The share of palm oil in total edible oil imports increased to 73 per cent from 47 per cent, while that of soft oils decreased to 27 per cent from 53 per cent. Indonesia was the major supplier of palm oil at 10.11 lt of crude palm oil, 3.77 lt of RBD palmolein, followed by Malaysia — 5.40 lakh tonnes of CPO and 76,643 tonnes of RBD palmolein.

Meanwhile, SEA has welcomed the Government’s move to suspend tariff rate quota for crude soyabean oil for the financial year 2023-24. DGFT in a notification on Wednesday suspended the TRQ for crude soyabean oil for FY2023-24, while allowing shipments upto June 30, provided the bill of lading is on or before March 31, 2023. In view of this, 5.5 per cent import duty will be attracted from April 1 for non TRQ shipment. “This is a welcome step, which will ensure level playing field to the domestic refiners and same time ensure remunerative price to soyabean farmers and will also support mustard price harvesting in February/March. Government should also suspend TRQ for crude sunflower oil to encourage domestic sunflower seed crop cultivation,” SEA said in a statement.