Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

India’s edible oil imports in July rose to a record 1.76 million metric tonnes as refiners built up stocks for upcoming festivals, given uncertainty over supplies from the Black Sea, five dealers told Reuters.

Higher purchases by the world’s biggest importer of vegetable oils could help to lower palm oil stocks in Indonesia and Malaysia and support benchmark futures. They would also strengthen soya oil futures and could reduce inventories in sunflower oil-producing Black Sea countries.

India’s average monthly edible oil imports in the 2021/22 marketing year were 1.17 million tonnes, trade body Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) said. In June, India imported 1.3 million tonnes of edible oils.

Palm oil imports increased from 683,133 tonnes in June to 1.09 million tonnes in July, the highest in seven months, according to average estimates from the dealers.

Palm oil’s discount over soya oil and sunoil widened and prompted refiners to increase purchases for the upcoming festivals, Sandeep Bajoria, CEO of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage and consultancy firm, said.

The SEA is likely to publish its July vegetable oil import data by mid-August.

Because of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, importers are maintaining substantial oil reserves to ensure they are well-stocked and avoid any potential shortages, said Rajesh Patel, managing partner at GGN Research, an edible oil trader and broker.

Sunflower oil imports leapt by 73% from a month earlier to 330,000 tonnes, the highest in six months, whilst soya oil imports fell 22% to 340,000 tonnes, dealers estimated.

Soya oil imports were lower than expected in July, as a delay in berthing meant some vessels could not be unloaded at Kandla port, Patel said.

India buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, whilst it imports soya oil and sunflower oil from Argentina, Brazil, Russia, and Ukraine.