New Delhi: The country's vegetable oil imports fell by 6 percent to 8.35 lakh tonnes in March due to a continuous fall in shipments of palm oil, industry body SEA said on Tuesday.
Vegetable oil imports stood at 8.89 lakh tonnes in the same month of the previous year, it said in a statement.
India meets about 60 percent of its annual vegetable oil demand of 17-18 million tonnes via imports. Palm oils make up 80 percent of the country's total vegetable oil imports.
"Indian refiners prefer to import crude soft oils over crude palm oil (CPO), which reflected in pattern of import in last few months," Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) said.
Palm oil imports have fallen by 23 percent to 5.45 lakh tonnes in March this year from 7.08 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.
Among palm oils, crude palm oil (CPO) shipments declined by 24 percent to 4.24 lakh tonnes from 5.58 lakh tonnes.
Interestingly, import of refined crude variant (RBD palmolein) which remained higher in last few months owing to lower prices as compared to CPO, fell marginally to 1.12 lakh tonnes in March this year, from 1.37 lakh tonnes in the same month last year.
According to SEA, import of non-edible oils fell sharply to 2,499 tonnes in March this year, as compared to 38,509 tonnes in the year-ago period.
As on April 1, edible oils stock at various ports is estimated at 6.30 lakh tonnes, of which CPO was 4.9 lakh tonnes. About 7.1 lakh tonnes of edible oil is in the pipeline.
Total stock of vegetable oils both at ports and in the pipelines has reduced to 12 lakh tonnes from 12.45 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.
During the November-March period of 2013-14 marketing year, total palm oil imports have fallen to 22.73 lakh tonnes, as against 31.20 lakh tonnes in the same period of previous year, the SEA data showed.
India imports palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia.
First Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 14:17