Sunday 19 May 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (March 4): India, the world's biggest vegetable oil importer, is expected to buy larger volumes of soyoil in 2024, while purchases of palm oil are likely to decline, a top dealer said on Monday.

Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage and consultancy firm, said India's soyoil imports will rise to 4.3 million metric tonnes in the 2023/2024 marketing year, from 3.5 million tonnes in 2022/2023.

Palm oil imports will be lower at 9.2 million tonnes in 2023/2024, compared with 10 million tonnes in 2022/2023, Sandeep said on the sidelines of the Palm and Lauric Oils Price Outlook Conference 2024 here.

Negative refining margins in palm oil versus positive margins in soyoil have prompted a switch from palm oil to soyoil in recent weeks, according to traders.

Lower purchases of palm oil by India could keep inventories elevated in top producers Indonesia and Malaysia, and weigh on benchmark futures.

Sandeep said India's imports of sunflower oil will remain at about three million tonnes for the current marketing year, which would see the country's total vegetable oil imports at 16.5 million tonnes in 2023/2024, unchanged from the previous year.

"Overall, domestic production of vegoils is going to be around 10 million tonnes and imports will be at 16.5 million tonnes. So, total consumption will be around 26.5 million tonnes."

Local supplies of soybean, cottonseed, rice bran and mustard oils were currently keeping a lid on imports by India. However, palm oil imports should rise from May to July, Sandeep said.

The country's palm oil imports are expected at 700,000 tonnes to 750,000 tonnes per month in May, June and July, Sandeep said.

India's palm oil imports in January dropped more than 12% from a month ago to a three-month low of 782,983 tonnes.

India buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and soyoil and sunflower oil from Argentina, Brazil, Russia and Ukraine.

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