India’s vegetable oil import is likely to rise by 5,00,000 tonnes during the current marketing year ending October to nearly 15 million tonnes on higher domestic demand and cheaper imports, an industry body said. Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) Executive Director B V Mehta said the import of crude palm oil (CPO) could rise and shipments of refined palmolien fall by around 3,00,000 tonnes during August-October after recent hike in import duty. “We had earlier estimated that import of vegetable oils will fall in the 2016-17 marketing year (November-October). But now, we have revised our estimate and imports could increase by half a million tonnes,” Mehta told PTI. The country imported 14.4 million tonnes of vegetable oils (comprising edible oil and non-edible oil) in 2015-16. He attributed the increase in imports to rising domestic consumption and cheaper imports. Already, India has imported 11.38 million tonnes of vegetable oils during November-July, up 4 per cent from the corresponding period of the previous year.
On the impact of hike in import duty on palm oil, Mehta said: “We had estimated that total palm oil imports will be 8.5 million tonnes in 2016-17, of which 5.5 million will be crude and 3 million tonnes refined palmolein. Now after duty hike, we feel that imports of crude palm oil may rise and that of refined palmolein may fall by around 3,00,000 tonnes.” The Centre has raised import duty on crude palm oil to 15 per cent from 7.5 per cent, degummed soyabean oil to 17.5 per cent from 12.5 per cent and RBD palmolein to 25 per cent from 15 per cent to ensure that farmers get good price for oilseed crops and do not shift to other crops. “Increase in duty difference between CPO and refined palmolein to 10 per cent from the earlier 7.5 per cent has provided some cushion to domestic processors,” Mehta said. During November-July period, SEA said that palm oil import increased to 67.41 lakh tonnes from 61.75 lakh tonnes during the year-ago period. The share of palm oil products increased to 61 per cent from 57 per cent, thanks to larger import of RBD palmolein, while soft oils import reduced to 43.59 lakh tonnes from 46.12 lakh tonnes during the period under review.