Edible oil imports down 34% in April

New Delhi: India’s edible oils import declined by 34 per cent to 7,90,377 tonne during April mainly due to logistics related issues during the lockdown, industry body SEA said on Wednesday.

Import of palm oils showed a drastic decline in April, while shipment of soft oils like soybean and sunflower oils rose, it said in a statement.

India, the world’s leading vegetable oil buyer, had imported 11,98,763 tonne of edible oils during April 2019.

“The drop in April is mainly due to logistics issues at destinations as well as at discharge ports,” Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) said in a statement.

Among palm oils, import of RBD palmolein fell 87 per cent to 29,750 tonne in April 2020 from 2,38,479 tonne in the year-ago month after the commodity was placed under a restrictive list of imports on January 8, 2020, it said.

Last year, Malaysia had shipped excessive RBD palmolein to India taking the benefit of lower duty concession, SEA said.

Even import of crude palm oil and crude palm kernel oil registered 14 per cent drop in inbound shipments during November-April period due to slump in demand during the lockdown period, it noted.

According to SEA, the decline in palm oil imports has led to rise in shipments of soft oils. Soybean and sunflower oils imports rose by 13 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively in the six-month period, thanks to household demand for consumer packs.

However, total shipment of edible oils fell by 14 per cent to 61,82,184 tonne during November-April period of the 2019-20 oil year from 72,03,830 tonne in the year-ago same months.

The oil year runs from November to October.

SEA made it clear that the April import data was provisional and it would release the complete data once the situation returns to normal and it is able to access shipment details from all sources.

India imports palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, and a small quantity of crude soft oil, including soybean oil from Argentina. Sunflower oil is imported from Ukraine and Russia.