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India’s Palm Oil Imports Plunge as Demand for Sunflower Oil Jumps

India’s palm oil imports plunged to their lowest level in nine months in February, as higher prices prompted buyers to reduce purchases of the tropical oil in favor of rival sunflower oil, according to a leading trade body.


Lower purchases by India, the world’s biggest importer of vegetable oils, could cap a rally in benchmark Malaysian palm oil futures, but will help to reduce sunflower oil inventories in the Black Sea region.


Palm oil imports in February fell about 36% from the previous month to 497,824 tonnes, the lowest since May 2023, the Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) said in a statement.


“The availability of palm oil for edible oil requirements has come down as the main two producers Malaysia and Indonesia are diverting it for the production of biodiesel. This may result in an increase in prices this year,” SEA said.


On the flip side, sunflower oil imports in February jumped about 35% to 297,092 tonnes on lower prices and as shipments originally expected in January arrived in February due to delays caused by Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping lanes, it said. However, soy oil imports in February slipped 8% from a month ago to 172,936 tonnes and were far below the monthly average imports of 306,000 tonnes in the marketing year ended Oct 31.


That combined with the drop in palm oil imports pulled down India’s total edible oil imports in February to the lowest level in nearly two years at 0.97 million tonnes, SEA said.


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