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India's Sunoil Imports Hit Second-Highest Level As Palm Oil Retreats

By Reuters
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India's Sunoil Imports Hit Second-Highest Level As Palm Oil Retreats

India's sunflower oil imports rose by 51% in March from the previous month to reach the second highest level on record, as lower prices led refiners to increase their purchases, while reducing buying of rival palm oil, five dealers told Reuters.

Lower palm oil purchases by India, the world's biggest importer of vegetable oils, could cap the rally in benchmark Malaysian palm oil futures that are trading near their highest in a year.

Higher sunflower oil purchases will help to reduce sunflower oil inventories in the Black Sea region.

March sunflower oil imports surged 51% month-on-month to 448,000 metric tonnes, the second highest on record, according to estimates from dealers.

Palm oil imports fell 3.3% to 481,000 tonnes, the lowest since May 2023, they said.

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'Imports Are Rising'

"Sunflower oil imports are rising in place of palm oil. Production issues are keeping palm oil prices firm, prompting buyers to switch to sunflower oil," Sandeep Bajoria, CEO of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage, said.

Crude palm oil (CPO) imports are offered at about $1,020 a metric tonne, including cost, insurance and freight (CIF), in India for May delivery, while soyoil and sunflower oil are offered around $1,000 and $960 a tonne, respectively, dealers said.

Palm oil usually trades at a discount to rival soyoil and sunflower oil, but falling stocks have lifted its prices above rival oils, whose supplies are abundant.

Sunflower oil prices are very competitive, which would ensure higher imports even during April and May, Rajesh Patel, managing partner at edible oil trader and broker GGN Research, said.

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Soyoil imports in March jumped 27% to 220,000 tonnes from a month earlier, and were far below the monthly average imports of 306,000 tonnes seen in the last marketing year ended 31 October, dealers estimated.

Industry body the Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) is likely to publish its data on March imports by mid-April.

The higher sunflower oil and soyoil imports lifted India's total edible oil imports in March to the highest level in six months at 1.149 million tonnes, up 18.7% from a month earlier, dealers said.

India buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, while it imports soyoil and sunflower oil from Argentina, Brazil, Russia and Ukraine.

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