Indian palm oil imports expected to hit 10-month high

NEW DELHI: Palm oil imports by India probably surged 46% last month as a drop in stockpiles in the world’s biggest buyer prompted refiners and traders to boost purchases.

Inbound shipments rose to 823,000 tons from a month earlier in July as demand from the food services industry grew following the easing of lockdown rules, according to GG Patel, managing partner of GGN Research.

That’s the highest since September and compares with 812,805 tons in July 2019.

A jump in purchases by India will likely trim stockpiles in top producers Indonesia and Malaysia, potentially further boosting palm oil prices that have advanced more than 20% so far this quarter.

Reserves in Malaysia likely tumbled to a three-year low in July as production shrank and exports surged, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Palm oil consumption by restaurants and hotels suffered in India after the government imposed the world’s most stringent stay-at-home rules in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus among its 1.3 billion people.

The restrictions are gradually being lifted.

Soybean oil imports in July are estimated to have increased to 484,000 tons from 331,264 tons a month earlier, Patel said.

Sunflower oil buying fell to 199,000 tons from 268,128 tons. Edible oil imports probably totalled 1.51 million tons, compared with 1.16 million tons a month earlier, Patel said.