India Palm Imports Seen Lower in May on Near-Record Stockpile

  • Inbound soybean oil shipments seen falling 20 percent: survey
  • India’s cooking oil shortfall estimated at 15.5 million tons

Palm oil imports by India probably fell last month as an increase in global prices and near record domestic reserves prompted traders and refiners to curb purchases.

Imports dropped 23 percent to 700,000 metric tons in May from a year earlier, according to the median of five estimates in a Bloomberg survey of processors, brokers and analysts. Total vegetable oil purchases, including soybean and sunflower oils, fell 16 percent to 1.15 million tons, the survey showed. The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India is set to release import data in the middle of the month.

Palm oil futures in Kuala Lumpur advanced last month amid declining stockpiles in Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s top producers. India’s cooking oil stockpiles on May 1 were 2.44 million tons, up 16 percent from a year earlier, according to association data. The country relies on imports to meet more than 70 percent of its cooking oil needs.

“Demand last month was slow because of high stockpiles,” said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive officer of Sunvin Group, a Mumbai-based broker and consultant for oil and oilseed industry. “There was less parity between our prices and global prices.”

Futures in Kuala Lumpur surged to a two-year high in March as El Nino-induced drought tightened supplies in Asia. About 86 percent of the world’s palm oil is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia. Even as India’s cooking oil imports probably declined in May, the country still faces a shortfall of 15.5 million tons in 2015-16, according to the Food Ministry.

Soybean oil imports probably fell 20 percent to 230,000 tons in May from a year earlier, while sunflower oil purchases dropped 28 percent to 110,000 tons, according to the survey. Canola oil purchases were 25,000 tons.

India buys palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia and soybean oil from the U.S., Brazil and Argentina.

ImportsMay 2016 (Survey)April 2016 (SEA)May 2015 (SEA)
Palm oil700,000729,536907,347
Soybean oil230,000348,195289,266
Sunflower oil110,000100,750153,048
Total Vegetable oil1,150,0001,242,3871,371,662
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