Edible oil prices in India expected to fall

Edible oil prices in India are expected to fall if China reduces imports of palm oil, as it has indicated. Prices of edible oils have gone up 40-50% in the past eight months, pinching the pockets of consumers amid the Covid-19-induced economic slowdown.

China is expected to lower its palm oil purchases in the 2021-22 marketing year, spanning October 2021-September 2022, as it looks to ramp up domestic edible oil production. Besides, the industry wants the government to reduce import duty on edible oils so that consumers can get some relief.

The basic import duty on crude palm oil (CPO), sunflower and soybean oils is 15%. There is a 17.5% cess on CPO and 20% cess on crude soybean and sunflower oil.

“Prices of imported crude palm oil have gone up to $1.250 per tonne from $800 per tonne in the last eight months. A similar movement has been noticed in soybean and sunflower oils,” said Sandeep Bajoria, CEO of oil consultancy firm Sunvin Group. “Prices of imported soybean oil have moved up to $1,425 per tonne from $800 per tonne in the same period. So has sunflower oil, which has appreciated to $1,600 per tonne from $1,250 per tonne. This has been the steepest hike since 2008.”

Industry executives said the government should reduce the import duty to give some respite to consumers on cooking oil.

China’s Agriculture Outlook Committee lowered its forecast for 2021-22 palm oil imports to 4.2 million tonnes from the 2020-21 estimate of 4.5 million tonnes, according to the Chinese Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report released on May 13.

“We have to wait and watch how Chinese buyers behave in the coming months. That will have an impact on our prices too,” said BV Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India.

India’s total annual edible oil consumption is 22-23 million tonnes. Of this, 14.5 -15 million tonnes is imported.

According to data published by the Solvent Extractors Association, import of vegetable oils in April was 1,053,347 tonnes compared to 798,715 tonnes in April 2020, consisting of 1,029,912 tonnes of edible oils and 23,435 tonnes of non-edible oils, up 32%. Overall imports of vegetable oils between November 2020 and April 2021 amounted to 6,428,350 tonnes compared to 6,317,928 tonnes, up 1.7%.

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