Global palm oil purchases are rising this quarter as buyers take advantage of the tropical oil's widening discount to rival soyoil which should entice price sensitive consumers and boost biofuel usage, according to senior industry officials.
The highest discount in a decade would divert demand towards palm oil from soyoil and sunflower oil and help top producer Indonesia and Malaysia bring down stockpiles that were weighing on the benchmark futures. FCPOc3.
Palm oil for shipment to India in November is being offered at $941 a tonne including cost, insurance and freight (CIF), compared with $1,364 for crude soyoil, according to six palm oil traders that participate in the market. That $423 discount is the most in 10 years, the dealers said.
Sunflower oil is being offered at $1,400 a tonne, the dealers said. A year ago, palm oil's discount to soyoil was around $100 per tonne.
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Demand On The Rise
"Palm oil demand has been rising from almost every country. Traders are buying more either for food purpose or for biofuels," said Pradeep Chowdhry, managing director of Gemini Edibles and Fats India Pvt Ltd, a leading Indian importer.
Top palm oil producer Indonesia's efforts to bring down stockpile by increasing exports are keeping the prices under pressure for the time being even as rival oils are moving higher, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.
Indonesia's palm oil stockpiles at the end of July rose to 5.91 million tonnes from around 4 million tonnes at the end of 2021 as Jakarta imposed restrictions on exports in the first half of 2022.
Palm oil's hefty discount is now prompting key buyers such as India, Pakistan, the European Union and Bangladesh to increase purchases for shipments for the quarter ending in December, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.
India's palm oil imports in September jumped to 1.2 million tonnes, the highest in a year, and the country could import 3 million tonnes in the fourth quarter, the dealer said.
The rebound in global energy prices LCOc1, which rose further after a decision by major oil producers to cut output, has also increased palm oil consumption for biofuels.
"Lots of palm oil is getting consumed for energy purpose since there is tight supply of heating oil and diesel in Europe," said Chowdhry of Gemini.
European buyers are making palm oil purchases for November and December shipments as blending palm oil has become profitable because of the rally in energy prices, said a senior official with a Malaysian palm oil producer.
Soyoil prices have been supported by high consumption in the United States for biodiesel and that is keeping soyoil's premium intact, the official said.
Soybean oil is used as a feed stock to produce biodiesel.
China Buying More
In the past few months China's palm oil buying was lower than the last year, but this could jump in coming months as stocks are running low, said a Kuala Lumpur-based palm oil trader.
"Chinese buyers have started making inquiries. They are interested in palm oil since other oils are very expensive," the dealer said.
Robust shipments in the fourth quarter will bring down stocks in producing countries and that will eventually move palm oil prices higher, said Chowdhry of Gemini.
"The current discount would go with falling stocks and we could see a normal discount of around $200," he said.
News by Reuters, edited by ESM – your source for the latest supply chain news. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.