Indonesia’s Palm Oil Exports Drop in January as China Buys Less

Palm oil exports from Indonesia, the largest producer, fell for a second straight month in January as sales to China declined, an industry group said.

Shipments, which include palm and kernel oils, dropped 1.4 percent to 1.87 million metric tons from 1.896 million tons in December, the Indonesian Palm Oil Association said in an e-mailed statement today. The median estimate for exports was 1.6 million tons in a Bloomberg survey last month, and is 14 percent more than a year earlier.

Falling shipments from Indonesia may hamper efforts to trim stockpiles, extending the 26 percent drop in prices in Kuala Lumpur in the past year. Inventories may drop to 2.3 million tons this year from 2.5 million at the end of 2012, according to Derom Bangun, chairman of the Indonesian Palm Oil Board.

The decline in exports “is because of seasonal factors,” Fadhil Hasan, executive director at the association, known as Gapki, said by phone from Jakarta. Importers curbed purchases as demand slowed after Christmas and New Year holidays, he said.

Shipments to China fell 15 percent to 178,230 tons in January, Gapki data showed. Exports to India rose 21 percent to 808,830 and sales to European Union gained 8 percent to 389,370 tons, the data showed.

Palm oil and it’s by-products accounted for 97 percent of total January shipments, or 1.76 million tons, and the rest was palm kernel oils, the data showed.

Palm oil futures for May delivery ended little changed at 2,449 ringgit ($787) a ton on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange in Kuala Lumpur today.

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