According to the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA), India is the largest importer of vegetable oil in the world and imported 131.3 lakh tonnes of edible oils worth Rs 1.17 trillion in the previous oil year (November-October 2020-21) to meet 60% of its vegetable oil needs. The major suppliers of RBD Palmolein and Crude Palm Oil to India are Indonesia and Malaysia while the country sources soybean oil from Argentina and Brazil.
Vegetable oil imports into India, which include both edible and non-edible oils, rose by 28% to 15.66 lakh tonnes in December owing to increased shipments of both refined palmolein and crude palm oil. The SEA stated that the vegetable oil imports during December’22 stood at 15,66,129 tonnes which is up in comparison to the previous year’s 12,26,686 tonnes. The shipments of non-edible oils increased from 9,832 tonnes to 10,349 tonnes.
The Surge In Oil Imports
The vegetable oil year spans from November to October. Between November and December 2022, there was a dramatic increase in the imports of CPO (crude palm oil) and refined palmolein in India. The imports of vegetable oils witnessed an increase of around 30% from 2,400,433 tonnes in 2021-22 to 3,111,669 tonnes during the same period in the ongoing year (November-December ‘22).
In the category of edible oils, the import of refined (RBD) palmolein increased by just 24,000 tonnes during the same month the previous year to 2,56,398 tonnes in December’22. Crude palm oil (CPO) imports increased from 5,28,143 to 8,43,849 tonnes.
As per the data, between November-December’22, 458,686 tonnes of refined oils (RBD palmolein) were imported compared to 82,267 tonnes in the same period in the previous year. In a similar manner, SEA said that 2,625,894 tonnes of crude oil were imported in the 2 months in comparison to 2,273,419 tonnes during November-December’21. This resulted in the share of refined oil jumping from 3% to 15% while that of crude oils declined from 97% to 85% when compared to the previous year. In order to ensure the welfare of farmers and consumers, India urgently needs to achieve self-reliance, or “Atma Nirbharta,” in the area of edible oils.
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