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India's December palm oil imports hit four-month high as sunoil doubles — dealers
calendar03-01-2024 | linkThe Edge Malaysia | Share This Post:

03.01.2024 (The Edge Malaysia) - MUMBAI (Jan 3): India's palm oil imports rose in December to their highest in four months, as purchases of refined palm olein surged because of competitive prices, five dealers told Reuters on Wednesday.

Higher purchases by the world's biggest importer of vegetable oils could help lower palm oil stocks in top producers Indonesia and Malaysia, and support benchmark futures.

India's December palm oil imports rose 1.9% from the previous month to 886,000 metric tonnes, estimates from dealers showed. Refined palm oil imports in the month surged 47% to 252,000 tonnes, they said.

The refining margin for crude palm oil was negative for Indian refiners, while exporting countries were offering refined palm oil at a cheaper price, making it lucrative for buyers, said Rajesh Patel, managing partner at edible oil trader and broker GGN Research.

Landed cost of refined bleached deodorised (RBD) palm olein at Mumbai port was around US$25 per tonne lower than crude palm oil, dealers said.

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

Sunflower oil imports in December more than doubled to stand at 263,000 tonnes, the highest in three-months, dealers said.

Higher palm oil and sunflower oil imports lifted India's total edible oil imports to 1.3 million metric tonnes, up 13.3% from a month earlier, dealers said.

"The crushing of sunflower seeds in the top-producing countries of Russia and Ukraine is in full swing. This increase in supply has made sunflower oil highly competitive, almost reaching the affordability of palm oil," said Sandeep Bajoria, CEO of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage.

Soyoil imports in December rose 1.4% from a month earlier to 152,000 tonnes, but far below average imports of 306,000 tonnes in the last marketing year, due to negative refining margins and a higher premium over rival oils, dealers estimated.

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