India’s palm oil imports could jump to record as prices fall

19 March, 2019 12:00 AM printer

MUMBAI:  India's palm oil imports in 2018/19 are likely to jump a tenth from a year earlier to a record high, as a sharp fall in the prices made the tropical oil more attractive for buyers than rival soyoil and sunflower oil, industry officials told Reuters.

Higher purchases by the world's biggest edible oil importer could support palm oil prices  that are trading near their lowest level in three months, report agencies.

"Palm oil imports are going to rise in the coming months. At current price level, it is very competitive compared to soyoil and sunflower oil," said Govindbhai Patel, managing director of trading firm G.G. Patel & Nikhil Research Company.

The country's palm oil imports in the 2018/19 marketing year that started on Nov.1 could jump 10.3 percent from the previous year to 9.6 million tonnes, he said.

Palm oil's discount to rival soyoil has widened to over US$200 per tonne from US$133 in March 2018, according to data compiled by the Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA), a Mumbai-based trade body.

Malaysian palm oil futures fell to 2,038 ringgit (US$676.16) a tonne on Friday, the lowest in three months, due to weak demand and ample supplies.

India's sunflower oil imports are likely to remain largely steady around 2.5 million tonnes, but soyoil imports could fall slightly from last year's 3.05 million tonnes as local supplies have increased, Patel said.