India Palm Oil Imports Drop in May on Slow Demand, Stockpiles

  • Soybean oil purchases fall 38%; sunflower oil imports drop
  • Cooking oil stockpiles on June 1 enough to meet 42 days demand

Palm oil imports by India fell last month as a drop in demand during summer and near-record domestic reserves prompted traders and refiners to curb purchases.

Imports declined to 657,454 metric tons from 907,347 tons a year earlier, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. That compares with the 700,000 ton median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Total vegetable oil purchases, including those for industrial use, fell 25 percent to 1.02 million tons.

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.

India’s edible oil purchases declined in May due to the high stockpiles and reduced demand during the summer period, the association said in the statement. India buys palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia and soybean oil from the U.S., Brazil and Argentina.

Soybean oil imports fell 38 percent to 178,064 tons in May from a year earlier, while sunflower oil purchases dropped 1.7 percent to 150,449 tons. Canola oil purchases were 18,718 tons.

Total cooking oil stockpiles were estimated to have decreased to 2.33 million tons as of June 1, according to the group. This compares with a monthly requirement of 1.65 million tons, it said.

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