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India's Top Palm Oil Buyer Expects 26% Jump in Imports to Record 10 million Tons


A worker checks a fresh fruit bunch of oil palm during harvest at a palm oil plantation in Khammam district in southern state of Telangana, India, July 12, 2022. REUTERS/Rajendra Jadhav/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

India's palm oil imports are set to jump 26% to a record high in the 2022/23 year ending on Oct. 31, as a recovery in consumption and competitive prices prompt refiners to increase purchases, the country's top palm oil buyer told Reuters.


Higher purchases by the world's biggest importer of palm oil could help to lower inventories in top producing Indonesia and Malaysia and support benchmark futures.


"Refiners are increasing their purchases for the upcoming festivals. We could see imports of around 1.8 million metric tons in the next two months," said Sanjeev Asthana, chief executive officer at Patanjali Foods Ltd (PAFO.NS).


If India imports 1.8 million tons in the next two months, the total shipments for the 2022/23 marketing year ending on Oct. 31 would be 10 million tons, surpassing the previous high of 9.5 million tons made in 2014/15, he said.


In the first 10 months of 2022/23, India imported 14 million tons of edible oils, consisting of 8.2 million tons of palm oil, 3.2 million tons of soy oil and 2.5 million tons of sunflower oil, dealers estimate.


India's edible oil consumption has been subdued in the past three years, with record-high prices weighing on 2022 use and COVID-19 on the previous two years, he said.


"We are expecting a growth 2%-4% in this year's consumption," he said.


India fulfils more than two-third of its edible oil requirement through imports.


A consumption revival would also see higher sunflower oil imports in the current year, raising the total imports of edible oils by 18% to a record 16.5 million tons, said Rajesh Patel, managing partner at GGN Research, an edible oil trader and broker.


Sunflower oil imports could jump 44% from a year earlier to a record 2.8 million tons as the oil was cheaper than soy oil, he said.


Soy oil imports could fall 11% from last year's record high of 4.1 million tons to 3.7 million tons this year, he added.


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


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