February solar oil imports set to fall as war disrupts supplies

Imports fell 54% month-on-month as shipments from the Black Sea region were hit

Imports fell 54% month-on-month as shipments from the Black Sea region were hit

India’s sunflower oil imports plunged 54% in February from the previous month as supplies from the Black Sea region were hit after Russia invaded Ukraine, while palm oil imports fell 15% on higher prices, four traders told Reuters.

Lower imports in February could force India, the world’s largest importer of cooking oil, to step up overseas purchases of palm oil and soybean oil in March, pushing prices already near record levels.

In February, 1,40,000 tons of sunflower oil landed in India, up from 3,07,684 tons in January, a Mumbai-based trader for a global trading firm said.

“Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ship loading in the Black Sea region was slow due to tensions,” said Sandeep Bajoria, managing director of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage and consulting firm.

Ukraine and Russia account for more than 90% of India’s sunflower oil imports.

Even in March, India’s sunflower oil imports would be less than 1,40,000 tons as shipping stopped in both countries, said Sudhakar Desai, president of the Indian Vegetable Oil Producers’ Association.

“Only a few ships that left before the war will reach India this month,” Mr. Desai added.

The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, a trade organization based in the commercial capital of Mumbai, is expected to release February import figures in mid-March.

India’s palm oil imports fell to 4.7 million tonnes in February, while soybean oil imports fell 5.5% to 3.7 million tonnes, traders said.

Palm oil imports fell in February due to higher prices and because it was a short month, said Govindbhai Patel, managing director of trading firm GG Patel & Nikhil Research Co.

Total vegetable oil imports fell 22% in February from January to 9,80,000 tons, traders said.

Imports could rebound to 1.1 million tonnes in March as more palm oil ships are expected to land this month, Mr Patel said.

India buys palm oil from top producers Indonesia and Malaysia and mainly imports soybean oil from Argentina and Brazil.

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