Palm oil import curbs boost coconut oil prices

Mumbai: The government''s decision to stop the import of palm oil at the southern port of Kochi has helped stabilise coconut prices and bring the two oils to price parity.

Two weeks ago, the directorate general of foreign trade, under the union commerce ministry, stopped palm oil imports at Kochi port where 70,000-80,000 tonnes of palm oil arrive annually. India imports palm oil mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia.

The prices of coconut oil are now moving around Rs46 ($1.17) per kg. Packaged palm oil prices in southern India are now ruling at about the same level as coconut oil, which is considered premium oil used for cooking as well as toiletries.

Imports are permitted at all other Indian ports, but the Kochi ban has increased transport costs to Kerala.

Coconut oil prices have steadily fallen from about Rs72 per kg over the last two years.