India likely to buy more soyoil in 2024, reduce palm oil purchases, top dealer says

Credit: REUTERS/STRINGER Argentina

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 (Reuters) - India, the world's biggest vegetable oil importer, is expected to buy larger volumes of soyoil in 2024, while purchases of palm oil are likely to decline, a top dealer said on Monday.

Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage and consultancy firm, said India's soyoil imports will rise to 4.3 million metric tons in the 2023/24 marketing year from 3.5 million tons in 2022/23.

Palm oil imports will be lower at 9.2 million tons in 2023/24, compared with 10 million tons in 2022/23, Bajoria said on the sidelines of the Palm and Lauric Oils Price Outlook Conference 2024.

Negative refining margins in palm oil versus positive margins in soyoil have prompted a switch from palm oil to soyoil in recent weeks, according to traders.

Lower purchases of palm oil by India could keep inventories elevated in top producers Indonesia and Malaysia, and weigh on benchmark futures FCPOc3.

Bajoria said India's imports of sunflower oil will remain at about 3 million tons for the current marketing year, which would see the country's total vegetable oil imports at 16.5 million tons in 2023/24, unchanged from the previous year.

"Overall, domestic production of vegoils is going to be around 10 million tons and imports will be at 16.5 million tons. So total consumption will be around 26.5 million tons."

Local supplies of soybean, cottonseed, rice bran and mustard oils were currently keeping a lid on imports by India. However, palm oil imports should rise from May to July, Bajoria said.

The country's palm oil imports are expected at 700,000 tons to 750,000 tons per month in May, June and July, Bajoria said.

India's palm oil imports in January dropped more than 12% from a month ago to a three-month low of 782,983 tons.

India buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and soyoil and sunflower oil from Argentina, Brazil, Russia and Ukraine.

(Reporting by Danial Azhar; Editing by Naveen Thukral and Mrigank Dhaniwala)

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