Palm Imports by India Falling for Third Month on Bumper Crop

Palm oil imports by India, the world’s largest consumer, probably tumbled for a third month in September as traders reduced purchases before a record harvest. Futures in Malaysia declined for the first time in six days.

Shipments of the main crude and refined palm oils fell 22 percent to 650,000 metric tons from 833,917 tons a year earlier, according to the median of estimates from five processors and brokers compiled by Bloomberg. Imports of vegetable oils, including for industrial use, fell 12 percent to 880,000 tons, the survey showed. The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India will release the data next week.

India is on the cusp of the biggest oilseed crop ever as production of soybeans and peanuts increases, according to Atul Chaturvedi, chief executive officer of Adani Wilmar Ltd. Higher supplies would cut palm oil imports and boost inventories in Indonesia and Malaysia, the biggest producers. World stockpiles are seen at a record 9.2 million tons by the end of 2013-2014 as output climbs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.

“We had less imports as the local crop is estimated to be good and everyone was expecting the crop arrivals to start early,” said Ashok Sethia, executive director at Sethia Oils Ltd. and a former president of the association. “Because of extended rains, the harvest was delayed and the crop will arrive within the next 10 days.”

Monsoon Boost

The monsoon-fed oilseed crop will expand to 23.96 million tons this year from 20.86 million tons a year earlier, the Agriculture Ministry said on Sept. 24. The harvest represents about 70 percent of annual output. Farmers boosted planting after the nation got the most rainfall since 2007 during the June-September monsoon season.

“Refined palm oil imports have come down on expectation that the import duty would be raised by the government,” Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive officer of Sunvin Group, said by phone from Mumbai.

Refined palmolein imports jumped 36 percent to 1.9 million tons in the 10 months to August this year, compared with a 7 percent rise in crude palm oil purchases to 4.8 million tons during the same period, according to the association. The government is considering an industry demand to revise the tariff on refined oils, Food Minister K.V. Thomas said Sept. 25. Processed oils currently attract a duty of 7.5 percent, while crude oil is taxed at 2.5 percent.

Monthly Loss

Palm for delivery in December fell as much as 0.8 percent to 2,373 ringgit ($746) a ton on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange and was at 2,380 ringgit at 4:30 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur. Futures slid 3.5 percent in September, the biggest monthly decline since July. Inventories rose 7 percent to 1.78 million tons last month from August, the highest since May, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board yesterday.

India’s palm oil imports may increase 5 percent to 8.7 million tons in the year beginning Nov. 1 from 8.3 million tons this year, said Govindlal G. Patel, managing partner at G Patel & Nikhil Research Co., who has traded cooking oils for more than three decades. The country meets more than half its cooking oil demand through imports.

Vegetable oil purchases in the 10 months through August rose 8 percent to 8.79 million tons, association data show. Imports will surge to 10.6 million tons this year from 10.2 million tons a year earlier, Patel said.

Crude soybean oil imports probably more than doubled to 150,000 tons in September from 59,000 tons a year earlier, while sunflower oil purchases may have dropped to 50,000 tons from 80,000 tons, the survey showed.

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