Closure of the bulk user segments of hotels, restaurants and cafes (HoReCa), as well as the absence of public functions and gatherings due to the nationwide lockdown since March, has dragged India’s vegoil imports in May to the lowest levels since 2011.

Vegetable oil imports for the month of May were reported at 707,478 tonnes as against 1,180,789 tonnes in May 2019, down by 40 per cent.

Lowest since 2011

This is the lowest import in May month since 2011, according to the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India that compiled the provisional data for import of edible oils.

“The drop in imports in April and May is mainly due to destruction in demand from the HoReCa segment,” the SEA noted.

The total import of edible oils from November 2019 to May 2020 was 6,889,662 tonnes (8,384,616 tonnes), showing a dip of 18 per cent. This fall is attributed to the reduction in import of RBD Palmolein by 76 per cent.

“In view of placing RBD Palmolein under the Restricted List with effect from January 8, its imports have since drastically reduced. In May 2020, import of RBD Palmolein reported just at 16,250 tonnes against 371,060 tonnes, a fall of 96 per cent over May 2019,” it said.

Last year, Malaysia shipped excessive RBD Palmolien to India, taking the benefit of lower duty concession. The imports of CPO and CPKO also registered a 14 per cent decline from November 2019 to May 2020.

Soft oil imports

“This decline in the imports of palm products has directly benefited the imports of soft oils, such as soybean and sunflower oils, which is evident from their increase in imports by 7 per cent and 11 per cent respectively, thanks to household demand in consumer packs,” BV Mehta, Executive Director, SEA, said.

For the November to May period, soyabean oil imports stood at 15,79,104 tonnes (14,69,199 tonnes). Similarly, there is a rise in the import of sunflower oil at 16,40,857 tonnes for the period, as against 14,72,742 tonnes last year.

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