Imports of vegetable oil increase 34% in July on rupee appreciation

The country imported 1,524,724 tonne of vegetable oils in July 2017 as compared to 1,140,685 tonne in July 2016, up by 34%, the Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) has said. This includes 1,489,137 tonne of edible oils and 35,587 tonne of non-edible oils. The overall import of vegetable oils during first nine months of current oil year 2016-17 (November 2016 to July 2017) stands at 11,388,296 tonne as compared to 10,903,728 tonne last year, a rise of 4%, the association said. At present, soybean, rapeseed and groundnut are being sold below MSP and prices have dropped between 20-30% of what they were last year. The current prices are the lowest in the last five years and farmers are totally discouraged to sow the oilseeds which is reflected in their switching over from oilseeds cultivation to other crops. The area under oilseeds has reduced by over 17 lakh hectares in the current kharif season and stands at 154.29 lakh hectares as against 171.15 lakh hectares for the previous year. To ensure that farmers do not lose interest in oilseeds cultivation and receive remunerative price for their produce during harvesting, the Centre has raised the import duty on crude palm oil to 15% from 7.5%, degummed soybean oil to 17.5% from 12.5% and RBD Palmolein to 25% from 15% with effect from August 11, 2017. India’s monthly requirement is about 17.50 lakh tonne and operate at 30 days stock against which currently holding stock over 24.73 lakh tonne equals to 42 days requirements. According to the association, during November 2016 to July 2017 period, import of refined oil (RBD Palmolein) has sharply increased to 2,197,455 tonne from 1,984,069 tonne in the same period last year, Also, the import of crude oil increased to 8,903,640 tonne from 8,803,813 tonne during the same period last year. During November 2016 to July 2017, palm oil import increased to 6,741,678 tonne from 6,175,524 tonne during the same period of last year and the overall share of palm oil products increased to 61% from 57%, thanks to larger import of RBD Palmolein. Soft oils import reduced to 4,359,417 tonne from 4,612,358 tonne last year, however, within soft oils, import of sunflower oil has sharply increased at the cost of soybean oil taking advantage of attractive price. Also, strengthening of rupee in the last 6 months supported the import of vegetable oils.