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Cooking Oil Imports by India Set to Gain 15% on Lower Crop

Cooking oil imports by India, the world’s second-biggest consumer, may climb 15 percent this year as a drop in local oilseeds harvest reduces supplies, according to GG Patel & Nikhil Research Co.

Purchases may increase to 9.7 million metric tons in the year that began Nov. 1 from 8.4 million tons a year earlier, Managing Partner Govindlal G. Patel, who’s traded cooking oils for more than three decades, said in an interview in Mumbai.

Palm oil, used in everything from candy bars to biofuels, plunged 17 percent from a 13-month high in April as growth slowed in China, the biggest cooking oil user, and the debt crisis worsened in Europe. Increased imports by India, the largest palm oil buyer, may support prices and help a recovery in futures in Malaysia.

Palm-oil products shipped from Malaysia to India this year will exceed last year’s 1.82 million tons, Minister of Plantation Industries & Commodities Bernard Dompok said in Mumbai. The South Asian nation may buy 7 million tons of the tropical oil this season, Patel said.

The August-delivery contract on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange climbed as much as 1.2 percent to 3,039 ringgit ($959) a ton and ended the morning session at 3,020 ringgit.

Oilseed production in India may drop to 30.1 million tons in 2011-2012 from 32.5 million tons a year earlier, according to the farm ministry. That spurred an increase in cooking-oil imports for a third straight month in April. Purchases almost doubled to 925,334 tons in April from a year earlier, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India said May 11.

Palm oil comprises almost 80 percent of India’s annual cooking-oil imports. The South Asian nation buys palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia, and soybean oil from Brazil and Argentina.

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