Tuesday 18 Jun 2024
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MUMBAI (April 12): India's palm oil imports in March plunged to their lowest level in 10 months, as higher prices prompted refiners to substitute palm oil with sunflower oil, resulting in sunflower oil imports reaching the second-highest on record, a leading trade body said.

Lower palm oil purchases by India, the world's biggest importer of vegetable oils, could cap the rally in benchmark Malaysian palm oil futures that were trading near their highest in a year.

Higher sunflower oil purchases will help to reduce sunflower oil inventories in the Black Sea region.

Palm oil imports fell about 2.5% in March from the previous month to stand at 485,354 metric tons, the lowest since May 2023, the Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) said in a statement on Thursday.

Falling palm oil stocks in producing countries drove prices higher, prompting Indian buyers to switch from palm oil to sunflower oil, BV Mehta, an executive director of the SEA, told Reuters.

Sunflower oil imports in the month surged about 50% to 445,723 tons, the second highest on record, the SEA said.

Crude palm oil imports were offered at about US$1,040 (RM4,957) a metric ton, including cost, insurance and freight, in India for May delivery, while soyoil was offered at US$1,015 a ton and sunflower oil at US$975 a ton.

Soyoil imports in March jumped 26.4% to 218,604 tons from a month earlier, and were far below the monthly average imports of 306,000 tons seen in the last marketing year ended Oct 31.

The higher sunflower oil and soyoil imports lifted India's total edible oil imports in March to the highest level in six months at 1.149 million tons, up 18.8% from a month earlier, the data showed.

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

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