BV Mehta, executive director, SEA, said that the country’s monthly consumption is to the tune of 19-20 lakh tonne per month.
The Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) has urged its members to try and run its units and continue dispatches in the wake of the shortage caused by the outbreak of Covid-19. Atul Chaturvedi, president, SEA, said that edible oil is an essential commodity and its supply cannot be disrupted as it can have huge repercussions in the country. “As far as possible, we should try to run our factories continue dispatches.” SEA has around 800 members.
Chaturvedi said that factories should engage with local administrators and keep them in the loop and utmost care should be taken to maintain social distancing and employees should be provided masks. More importantly, attendance in the factory should be kept at minimum to ensure operation.
BV Mehta, executive director, SEA, said that the country’s monthly consumption is to the tune of 19-20 lakh tonne per month. However, due to the lockdown there has been a sharp drop in demand from hotels, restaurants and canteens. The supply could be 15 lakh tonne and therefore, the association has appealed to its members to start factories and ensure the supply of edible oil, he said.
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India’s total demand for edible oil is around 230 lakh tonne annually, which is largely being met through imports. The country imports palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia, while shipments of soyabean come from Argentina and Brazil. India’s vegetable oil imports increased 3.5% to 155.5 lakh tonne in 2018-19 marketing year (November-October).
The import of vegetable oils during February 2020 has dropped 10.5% to 1,112,478 tonne, against 1,242,533 tonne in February 2019, consisting 1,089,661 tonne of edible oils and 22,817 tonne of non-edible oils. The overall import of vegetable oils during November 2019 and February 2020 is reported at 4,563,791 tonne compared to 4,862,849 tonne, i.e, a drop of 6.1%. Data complied by the SEA on the import vegetable oils (edible & non-edible) for February 2020 reveals that in view of the placing RBD palmolein under restricted list from January 8, 2020, its import has drastically reduced in February 2020 at 33,677 tonne. Import of crude sunflower and crude soyabean oil in contrast has sharply increased as spread between palm oil and soft oils reduced to nearly $75 to 80 per tonne, encouraging larger import of soft oils.
Indonesia is a major supplier of crude palm oil and refined palmolein at 21.08 lakh tonne. Malaysia, Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of sunflower oil, while Argentina is the major supplier of soyabean oil to India.
Mehta said imports of vegetable oils (comprising edible and non edible oil), too, have slowed down but there was no concern about availability. “We have sufficient stock of imported oil. Local production of mustard oil is happening. Harvesting of mustard crop is going on in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, so all local processing mills are operating.”