India's 2021/22 palm oil imports fall as soyoil dents market share

A farmer prepares to unload oil palm bunches from a tractor trolley in a mill at Dwaraka Tirumala

By Rajendra Jadhav and Arpan Varghese

MUMBAI/BENGALURU (Reuters) -India's palm oil imports in 2021/22 fell 4.8% from a year earlier as overseas buying of soyoil jumped 45.3% to a record high after Indonesia restricted shipments of palm oil, a trade body said on Monday.

India is the world's biggest importer of vegetable oils such as palm oil, soyoil and sunflower oil.

The country's palm oil imports in the marketing year ended on Oct. 31 fell to 7.9 million tonnes from 8.3 million tonnes a year earlier, Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) said.

Top palm oil exporter Indonesia in the first half of 2022 imposed various restrictions on the exports to calm local prices.

The restrictions made palm oil as expensive as soyoil and sunflower oil, prompting Indian refineries to reduce purchases of palm oil, according to the SEA.

Palm oil usually trades at discount of around $200 per tonne to rival soyoil and sunflower oil.

"Palm oil supplies are no longer an issue. In fact, Indonesia and Malaysia want to export more. This year palm oil would regain lost market share," a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trade house said.

Soyoil imports in 2021/22 jumped to a record 4.17 million tonnes as India tried to secure alternatives to palm oil. Along with traditional supplier Argentina and Brazil, the United States and Russia also supplied soyoil to India.

However, soyoil's premium over palm oil has risen to around $450 per tonne now and is forcing Indian buyers to switch to cheaper palm oil, according to the dealer.

India spent a record 1.57 trillion Indian rupees on the imports of edible oils in 2021/22, up 34% from a year earlier.

Sunflower oil imports in 2021/22 rose to 1.94 million tonnes, up 2.7% from a year earlier as New Delhi bought more oil from Argentina, Turkey and Romania even as supplies from the Black Sea region were disrupted because of the Ukraine conflict.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav and Arpan Varghese; Editing by Louise Heavens and Shounak Dasgupta)