MUMBAI: India’s edible oil imports in August rose 5.5% to a record 1.85 million metric tons as refiners purchased more than 1 million tons of palm oil for the second consecutive month to build stocks for upcoming festivals, a leading trade body said.

Higher purchases by the world’s biggest importer of vegetable oils could help to lower palm oil stocks in Indonesia and Malaysia and support benchmark futures.

The buying has helped strengthen soybean oil futures and could reduce inventories in sunflower oil-producing Black Sea countries.

India’s average monthly edible oil imports in the 2021/22 marketing year were 1.17 million tons, trade body Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) said.

In July, India imported 1.76 million tons, which was also a record high.

Palm oil imports in August rose about 3.9% from the previous month to 1.13 million metric tons, the highest in nine months and in line with an estimate from dealers, the SEA said in a statement on Thursday.

Imports of soyoil rose around 4.6% to 357,890 tons and those of sunflower oil were up 11.8% at 365,870 tons, the highest in seven months, it said.

Palm rises for second session on stronger rival oils

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

The record imports lifted total stocks at various Indian ports to a record 1.46 million tons on Sept. 1, compared to 949,000 tons on Aug. 1 and 611,000 tons a year ago, the SEA said.

The surge in August imports was a result of port congestion, leading to the delayed unloading of several vessels originally scheduled for July at Kandla port, dealers said.

Palm oil rises on supply concerns amid India festive demand

India could import a record 16-16.5 million tons of edible oils in the 2022/23 marketing year ending on Oct. 31, the SEA added.

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