PALM OIL - MUMBAI. India's palm oil imports in February dropped 30% from January to their lowest in 8 months on weak demand amid build-up in stocks because of excessive imports during November-January, a leading trade body said on Wednesday.
The reduction in palm oil imports by India, the world's biggest importer of vegetable oils, could weigh on Malaysian palm oil prices.
India's palm oil imports fell to 586,007 tonnes last month, the lowest since June 2022, Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) said in a statement.
The country's palm oil imports during November to January jumped 86% from a year ago because of lower prices even as demand was subdued due to winter months, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trade house.
"Refiners are now giving preference to bringing down stocks. They have ample stocks to cover short-term demand," he said.
Soyoil imports in February eased nearly 3% from January to 355,840 tonnes, while those of sunflower oil dropped 66% to 156,628 tonnes from record high imports in January, the SEA said.
India buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. It imports soybean and sunflower oil from Argentina, Brazil, Russia and Ukraine.
Palm oil imports would improve in March but are unlikely to cross 800,000 tonnes as its discount to soyoil and sunflower oil shrank to around $130 per tonne from as high as $500 in the December quarter, another Mumbai-based dealer with a global trade house said.
Vegetable oil stocks in the country nearly doubled from a year ago to a record 3.4 million tonnes despite a 33% drop in the total vegetable oil imports in February, the statement added.
India earlier this month decided to scrap a duty-free import quota of 2 million tonnes of crude sunflower oil for the next fiscal year, starting April 1.
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