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India’s Palm Oil Imports Surge to Four-Month High on Competitive Pricing

Published 13-06-2024, 09:20 am
India’s Palm Oil Imports Surge to Four-Month High on Competitive Pricing

In May, India's palm oil imports rose by 11.6%, reaching a four-month high of 763,300 metric tons due to its price advantage over other oils. Total vegetable oil imports increased by 16%, with significant shifts in soyoil and sunflower oil imports. Palm oil’s stable pricing made it particularly attractive to Indian buyers.


India's Palm Oil Imports Reach Four-Month High: In May, India's palm oil imports surged by 11.6% from the previous month, hitting a four-month high of 763,300 metric tons. This increase was driven by palm oil's competitive pricing compared to rival oils, making it more attractive for Indian buyers. The Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) reported this rise, highlighting the significant role of price dynamics in shaping import patterns.

Impact on Malaysian Palm Oil Futures: The increase in India's palm oil imports is significant for the global market, particularly supporting benchmark Malaysian palm oil futures. As the world's largest importer of vegetable oils, India's buying patterns can significantly influence global prices and market trends. The heightened demand from India could provide a boost to Malaysian palm oil prices.

Vegetable Oil Import Dynamics: In May, India's total vegetable oil imports rose by 16% to 1.5 million tons. While palm oil imports increased, soyoil imports fell by about 16% to 324,016 tons, and sunflower oil imports saw a significant rise of 75% to 410,727 tons. These shifts illustrate the fluid nature of India's vegetable oil market, influenced by price and supply fluctuations.

Price Influences on Oil Imports: Soyoil prices experienced a sharp increase due to supply disruptions in major producing countries like Argentina and Brazil. Similarly, sunflower oil prices rose because of decreased supplies from the Black Sea region. In contrast, palm oil prices remained steady, making it more attractive for Indian importers. This price stability played a crucial role in the increased import volumes of palm oil.

Crude Palm Oil Pricing: In May, crude palm oil was offered in India at approximately $951 per metric ton, including cost, insurance, and freight. In comparison, soyoil and sunflower oil were priced higher, at around $1,000 and $987 per ton, respectively. This price differential made palm oil a more cost-effective option for Indian buyers, driving the increase in imports.

Future Import Trends: Given the widening discount of palm oil compared to other vegetable oils, it is expected that India may import over 750,000 tons of palm oil in June. In contrast, soyoil imports are likely to fall below 300,000 tons due to a significant price increase of over $60 per ton in recent weeks. These projections reflect ongoing adjustments in response to global price movements and supply conditions.

Sources of India's Vegetable Oil Imports: India sources its palm oil primarily from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, while soyoil and sunflower oil are imported from Argentina, Brazil, Russia, and Ukraine. This diversification helps mitigate risks associated with supply disruptions from any single region. The choice of suppliers also reflects strategic economic and trade considerations in maintaining a steady supply of vegetable oils.


India's increased palm oil imports underscore the impact of competitive pricing on trade dynamics. With palm oil remaining cost-effective, further increases in imports are anticipated. The country’s diverse sourcing from regions like Southeast Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe ensures a steady supply amidst global price and supply fluctuations. As India continues to navigate these market conditions, its import patterns will play a crucial role in influencing global vegetable oil markets.

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