Mumbai:

India’s edible oil imports are set to fall for a third straight year, an industry official said on Tuesday, on lower demand due to rising local of the oilseed and a rebound in vegetable oil prices to record highs.

The world’s largest importer of edible oils is likely to buy 12.9 million tonnes from overseas in the 2021/22 marketing year ending Oct. 31, down from 13.13 million tonnes a year earlier, said BV Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extraction Association. India said.

“Normal monsoon rains in India for the third consecutive year have boosted domestic edible oil by 1.5 million tonnes and helped reduce imports,” Mehta told the Globoil conference in Dubai.

Over the past 20 years, India’s consumption of cooking oil has tripled as the population has grown, incomes have risen and restaurants have sprung up to cater to a population that is starting to eat out more frequently.

The country’s edible oil imports have surged to 15 million tonnes from 4 million 20 years ago, but in 2019/20 and 2020/21 after pandemic-related lockdowns hit consumption.

In the current marketing year, the government has lifted restrictions, but record-high prices are dampening consumption, Mehta said.

India mainly buys palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia, while soybean oil is mainly imported from Argentina and Brazil. It buys sunflower oil from Russia and Ukraine.

In the first six months of the 2021/22 marketing year, India imported 6.54 million tonnes of edible oil, up 4.3 percent year-on-year, Mehta said.

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