Palm Imports by India Seen Surging as Reserves Replenished

Palm oil imports by India, the world’s biggest buyer, probably climbed for the first time since June as traders rebuilt reserves from the lowest level in 21 months amid a delay in the domestic oilseed harvest.

Shipments of the main crude and refined oils jumped 15 percent to 700,000 metric tons in November from a year earlier, according to the median of estimates from five processors and brokers compiled by Bloomberg. Total vegetable oil imports, including for industrial use, rose 31 percent to 920,000 tons from a year earlier, the survey showed. The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India will release the data next week.

Rising Indian demand may trim stockpiles in Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s biggest producers, and help extend the first annual increase in futures in Kuala Lumpur in three years. Palm prices are set to extend a bull market rally as output drops in Indonesia and biofuel mandates expand globally, according to Dorab Mistry, director at Godrej International Ltd.

“In view of bullish palm markets and lower crush of soybeans within the country, Indian palm refiners have imported more palm oil,” said Nagaraj Meda, managing director of TransGraph Consulting Pvt. A prolonged monsoon season delayed the soybean harvest and damaged the crop in some regions, according to the Soybean Processors Association of India.

Cooking oil stockpiles at ports and pipelines in India may have risen to 1.51 million tons as of Dec. 1, Meda said. Inventories dropped to 1.4 million tons at the start of November, the lowest level since February 2012, according to the extractors’ association. India meets more than 50 percent of its annual cooking oil demand through imports.

Bull Market

Palm oil for delivery in February climbed 1 percent to 2,667 ringgit ($825) a ton on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange in Kuala Lumpur today. Prices, which entered a bull market last month, will trade from 2,600 ringgit to 2,900 ringgit between now and March, Mistry told a conference in Bandung, Indonesia, on Nov. 29.

The delay in soybean harvest because of monsoon rains boosted cooking oil shipments last month, said Ashok Sethia, executive director of Sethia Oils Ltd. The soybean processors’ association cut the output estimate to 12.2 million tons on Oct. 28 from 12.98 million tons after rains damaged the crop.

“From this month, palm imports will slow as local oils are quoting at a discount to imported oils because of the new oilseed crop harvest,” said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive officer of Sunvin Group in Mumbai. “Another reason is that the gap between palm and soybean oil has narrowed.”

Palm’s discount to soybean oil narrowed to $76.48 a ton yesterday, compared with an average $256 this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Crude soybean oil imports probably jumped to 100,000 tons in November from 14,160 tons a year earlier, while sunflower oil purchases may have jumped to 100,000 tons from 47,500 tons, the survey showed.

Vegetable oil purchases in the year that began on Nov.1 surged 4.8 percent to a record of 10.7 million tons, data from the association showed. Imports may climb 4.2 percent to 11.1 million tons this season, including 8.3 million tons of palm oil, Godrej’s Mistry estimates.

To contact the reporter on this story: Swansy Afonso in Mumbai at safonso2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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