Notwithstanding the fact that India’s edible oil imports have increased about 5% during the oil year 2016-17 (October to November), Gujarat, the leading destination for vegetable oil imports, has seen nearly 3% fall in import activity on ports on the back of delay in shipments and diversion of destination from Gujarat to other states for soft oils imports. As per the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), India has imported 15.44 million tonnes of vegetable oils in 2016-17 which was 14.74 million tonnes in 2015-16. As per the SEA data, about 5.84 million tonnes cooking oils have been imported at Kandla and Mundra ports of Gujarat as against 6.06 million tonnes. Gujarat’s share in total import was over 41% but in 2016-17 it has declined to 38.74%. “Soft oils like soya and sunflower oils are mostly consumed in South India. It is possible that some shipments have been diverted to the Mumbai and South Indian ports. As result, import figures of Gujarat ports have decreased. Import from Gujarat mostly cater to the northern parts of India. However, Gujarat is still on top in the country’s total import,” said B V Mehta, executive director of SEA.
SEA data stated imports of edible oils have gone up at Chennai port to 1.32 million tonne in 2016-17 from 1.17 million tonne in 2015-16. Mangalore port also witnessed rise in imports from 6.95 lakh tonne to 7.43 lakh tonne. Similarly in the east, vegetable oils imports have increased to 2.24 million tonne from 1.94 million tonne in said period at Haldia port of West Bengal. The edible oil industry also believes that delay in shipments from exporting countries might be one of the reasons for lower import at Gujarat ports. Atul Chaturvedi, chief executive officer of Adani Wilmar Limited and president of SEA said, “Some shipments might be delayed and as result at the end of the year we have observed decline in imports at the Gujarat ports. However, about 3% fall is negligible.”
Import of edible oil has sharply gained by 45% in last 5 years due to stagnant oilseed production and rising demand in the country and because of it India’s dependence on imported oil has increased to 70% of its requirements. According to SEA data, the country’s import has moved up from 10.38 million tonnes in 2012-13 to 15.07 million tonnes in 2016-17. Chaturvedi observed “Demand of edible oil in India increases at the rate of about 4% every year. The country requires about 22.50 million tonne but as our oilseeds production is limited, our import has increased. In current scenario we are able to produce about 7 million tonne edible oils.”