India's palm oil imports could drop about 7 percent in November, their first monthly decline since August, on weaker demand at the start of the cold weather that solidifies the oil and makes it unusable, a Reuters survey showed.
But purchases by the top importer will still be up nearly 19 percent from a year ago as more wealth and substantial growth in its 1.2 billion population drives demand, indicating a good start to the 2013/14 marketing year after arrivals hit a record high of 8.3 million tonnes in 2012/13.
Malaysian palm oil futures could come under some pressure from the monthly drop in India's imports, but falling output from top producer Indonesia should help keep a floor under prices that are headed for a gain in 2013 after plunging around 35 percent over the past two years.
The average of the Reuters survey of six traders also forecast a 15 percent monthly drop in refined palm oil imports to 131,250 tonnes in November.
India imports mainly palm oils from Indonesia and Malaysia, and small quantities of soyoil from Argentina and Brazil.
Palm oil accounts for nearly 80 percent of the South Asian country's total cooking oil imports. India relies on imports for about 60 percent of its annual vegetable oil demand of 17-18 million tonnes.
"Imports are expected to drop in December as in the winter season the demand for palm oil shrinks due to its low freezing point," said Sat Narain Agarwal, a Delhi based trader. Traders said monthly edible oil imports could fall for a second straight month in December as domestic supplies pick up.