India's vegetable oil imports have risen 18% to 10.67 lakh tonne (LT) in December 2013, the second highest in a month since 1994, due to purchase of cheaper sunflower oil from overseas and anticipation of hike in import duty. Import of vegetable oils, comprising edible and non-edible oils, stood at 9.08 LT in December 2012.
“December 2013 has shown the second highest record import of vegetable oils at 10.67 LT, since 1994. In January 2013 import was 11.57 LT,” Solvent Extractors' Association of India said in a statement.
In the first two months of oil year, imports of vegetable oils rose by 25% to 20.12 LT as compared to 16.08 LT in the year-ago period.
Edible oil imports increased to 19.79 LT during the period, from 15.59 LT, but import of non-edible oils decreased to 32,357 tonne in the two months, from 49,235 tonne in the same period last year. Oil year runs from November to October. “In the last two months import has surged as sunflower oil was cheaper to soybean oil encouraged larger shipment of sunflower oil,” SEA said.
The industry body also said palm oil shipments were higher during the month in anticipation of likely increase in import duty. Moreover, price difference between RBD Palmolein and crude palm oil reduced to less than $10/tonne making RBD Palmolein more attractive over CPO.
India imported over 10 million tonne of vegetable oils in 2012-13 oil year, which is about 50% of domestic demand. The country imports palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia, while soyabean oil is purchased from Brazil and Argentina. Import duty on crude edible oil is 2.5% and custom duty on refined edible oil has recently been increased to 10% from 7.5%.
During November-December 2013, import of refined oil has gone up by 74% to 3.72 LT, compared to 2.14 LT during the same period of the previous year.
Import of crude oil was up by 19% at 16.07 LT as compared to 13.45 LT during the same period of last year.
Current stock of edible oils as on January 1, 2014 at various ports is estimated at 7.45 LT and about 8.5 LT in pipelines.