India Palm Oil Imports Seen Falling Third Month Amid Soy Switch


Palm oil imports by India probably fell for a third month in July as some buyers switched to soybean oil.

Imports dropped 20 percent to 585,000 metric tons in July from a year earlier, according to the median of five estimates in a Bloomberg survey of processors, brokers and analysts. Total vegetable oil purchases rose 11 percent to 1.13 million tons as soybean oil imports more than doubled, the survey showed. The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India is set to release import data in the middle of the month.

Soybean oil imports increased as its premium over palm declined, said Nagaraj Meda, managing director of Hyderabad-based TransGraph Consulting. Traders held off buying palm oil given that there were adequate edible oil stockpiles at ports, he said.

Total cooking oil stockpiles in the world’s biggest buyer were at 2.32 million tons on July 1, from a record 2.51 million tons in January, association data show. Palm oil futures in Kuala Lumpur fell into a bear market last month amid weakening demand including from China, where imports slumped 25 percent in first half. Soybean oil’s premium over palm oil dropped 11 percent in July, the most since March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Demand Rebound

India’s total cooking oil inventories by Aug. 1 probably fell to 2.07 million tons, the lowest since April 1, 2015, said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive officer of Sunvin Group, a Mumbai-based broker and consultant for the oilseed industry. Palm oil stockpiles at ports probably fell 33 percent to 310,000 tons, which will help boost imports in August and September, he said.

Palm oil futures have climbed 6.1 percent this month on signs demand is increasing. Exports from Malaysia jumped 18 percent in the first 10 days of August from a month earlier, led by higher purchases by China and India, according to cargo surveyor Intertek Testing Services.

India’s soybean oil imports probably more than doubled to 354,438 tons in July from a year earlier, while sunflower oil purchases increased 33 percent to 140,000 tons, according to the survey. Canola oil purchases were 30,504 tons.

India relies on imports to meet more than 70 percent of its cooking oil needs. The country buys palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia and soybean oil from the U.S., Brazil and Argentina.


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