Experts from the global edible oil industry feel that India will be importing more oil next year as there are signs of pick up in the economy.

The SEA GLOBOIL webinar on ‘World Price Outlook for Vegetable Oils and Meals’, organised by Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India, discussed this point in detail as Atul Chaturvedi, President of SEA of India, wanted to know from the global experts on the outlook for edible oil in the country.

Chaturvedi said Indian import of edible oil is likely to fall by almost 1.5 million tonnes (mt) during the oil year 2019-20. (The edible oil year ranges from November to October.) The country is estimated to import around 13.5 mt during 2019-20 as against 14.9 mt in the previous year.

Looking at the heavy plantation of mustard, soya and groundnut crops, India will be producing 1.25-1.5 million tonnes of domestic oil next year. He wondered whether the country would still import 13.5 mt next year also.

Demand rebound seen

Replying to his queries, Thomas Mielke, Chief Editor of Oil World of Germany, said India will be importing more in the next year than what it imported this year.

He said that the increase in groundnut production translates to a small increase in groundnut oil production. “I am confident that we are going to see a recovery, though not as high as two years ago when India imported 15.6 million tonnes,” he said.

Agreeing with him, Dorab Mistry, Director of Godrej International Ltd, Singapore, said the demand will come back as the economy is coming back to normal. Added to this, the country is starting with very low stocks.

He opined that the country will probably get more than half a million tonnes of mustard seed production. “But this is work in progress. We have to watch,” he said.

Stating that the country had three very good seasons of rainfall during the Rabi crop, he said: “Let us wait and watch and see how the rainfall develops, before we put too much emphasis on mustard crop. But for the time being the production is not likely to go up very significantly. These significant rises only take two-three years to happen.”

In the meantime, consumption is coming back, he said, adding: “I think our imports will go up.”

James Fry, Managing Director of LMC International Ltd, London, said as HoReCa (hotels, restaurants, catering) segment will come back and people stop observing lockdown even if there is a second wave of Covid. There is more use of cooking oil coming out, he said.

BV Mehta, Executive Director of SEA of India, said that the nearly 1,000 participants from 48 countries attended the SEA GLOBOIL webinar on ‘World Price Outlook for Vegetable Oils and Meals’.

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