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India's January Palm Oil Imports Hit Three-Month Low As Soyoil Shipments Rise, Say Dealers

Lower purchases by the world’s biggest importer of vegetable oils could keep palm oil inventories elevated in top producers Indonesia and Malaysia and weigh on benchmark futures.

January palm oil imports fell 12% from the previous month to 787,000 metric tonnes, estimates from dealers showed. Crude palm oil imports fell 16% to 541,000 tonnes last month, they said.

Palm oil imports were down primarily because of a significant decrease in CPO buying, as refiners saw more negative margins compared to refined bleached deodorized (RBD) palmolein, said Rajesh Patel, managing partner at edible oil trader and broker GGN Research.

“Soya oil imports increased as prices were highly competitive compared to palm products, and refining margins were in positive territory,” he said.

Soyoil imports in January jumped 24% from a month earlier to 190,000 tonnes, but were far below the monthly average imports of 306,000 tonnes seen in the last marketing year ended on Oct 31, dealers estimated.

Imports of soyoil are expected to rise sharply in the coming months, as its premium over palm oil and sunflower oil has decreased, and the oil is now available at par with rival oils, said Sandeep Bajoria, CEO of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage.

Industry body Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) is likely to publish its data on January imports by mid-February.

Sunflower oil imports in January dropped 19% to 211,000 tonnes as the oil became expensive because of higher freight rates following Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping, dealers said.

The lower palm oil and sunflower oil imports pulled down India’s total edible oil imports to 1.19 million tonnes, down 9.2% from a month earlier, dealers said.

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

Source : The Edge Malaysia