Poor monsoon may push up edible oil imports 27 per cent

Thanks to a weak monsoon India is expected to import more than eight million tonnes of edible oil this year, up 27 per cent from the 6.3 million tonnes in the year-ago period, according to the Solvent Extractors Association (SEA). The oil year runs from October to September.

SEA has indicated that the erratic monsoons and likely lower kharif oilseed crop would push up imports. "Oilseeds production will depend on how the monsoon behaves in August and September," said B V Mehta, executive director of the trade body.

For July, vegetable oil imports rose 4.3 per cent from a year ago to 596,024 tonnes. Imports in the nine months of oil year from November were at 6.4 million tonnes, up 56 per cent from 4.1 million tonnes in the year-ago period, the SEA data showed.

Traders had expected edible oil imports to rise 5.8 per cent in July from a year ago, but the purchases were were 25 per cent lower than June's of 742,481 tonnes, as port stocks were high.

Imports of edible oils alone rose 4.7 per cent in July to 557,423 tonnes from 523,456 tonnes in the same month last year.

Vegetable oil imports would be about 8 million tonnes in 2008-09, Mehta said, adding that total imports would comprise 7.5 million tonnes of edible oil and 500,000 tonnes of non-edible oil.