Sales of cooking oils have recovered significantly and are likely to reach pre-Covid levels in four to six months, industry executives said.

Average monthly sales had fallen sharply from 1.9 to 2 million tonnes before the pandemic. The market improved in July, said BV Mehta, executive director of Solvent Extractors’ Association of India.

“The market is reviving and edible oil sales in July-August will be between 1.65 and 1.7 million tonnes, which are improving every month. However, it will take another four to six months for it to reach pre-Covid levels,” said Mehta.

Sanjeev Asthana, CEO at Ruchi Soya Industries, said demand will rise further in the festival season.

“As the whole unlocking of the economy happens, clearly we can see visible signs that sales are picking up to 80%-85% of the pre-Covid level. There is good reason to believe that imports have also started to pick up in anticipation of domestic buying. As we move towards the festival season, which is primarily towards October month, the demand is certainly going to come back,” he said.

Asthana said the uncertainty about the pandemic continues but festive demand is likely to rise.

Sudhakar Desai, CEO at Emami Agrotech, said sales have recovered to 90% of pre-Covid levels and are expected to be good in the months ahead.

Sales are expected to be good in August, September and October due to gradual relaxation in lockdowns by state governments and the festival season, said Desai, adding that he expects 1.4 million tonnes of cooking oil imports during this period.

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