The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) forecast India's Edible oil imports in MY 2019/20 at 16.4 million tonnes, of which 10 million tonnes will be palm oil, followed by 3.6 million tonnes of soybean, 2.6 million tonnes of sunflower seed oil, and 0.2 million tonnes of other oils.
Since consumption is growing at a much faster pace than production, this is driving the need for imports: India still is the largest importer of edible oils, followed by European Union, China, and United States.
Nevertheless, in the first 5 months of the current marketing year, vegetable oil imports were down ten percent at 5.2 million tonnes due to lower than anticipated import of crude palm oil. The narrow price difference between refined and crude palm oil will encourage slightly higher imports of RBD palm oils, but at the cost of crude palm, USDA’s attache said in its report.
Based on the current trend, India is likely to import an additional 10.2 million tonnes through September 2019, thereby lifting total imports in MY 2018/19 to 15.4 million tonnes; which will be six percent above last year, the report said.
Interestingly, compared to last year, soybean and sunflower oil imports have risen marginally; they are likely to stay above last year’s level as an indicator of firm local demand and an improving supply situation in the world market, the attache said.
Total edible oil stock at ports and in pipelines as of March 1, 2019 is 2.2 million tonnes, close to last year’s level but down 358,000 metric tons in October 2018. India’s monthly requirement is close to 1.9 MMT and is equal to 35 days consumption requirement.