India's Palm Oil Imports Surge 74% in May Amid Rising Domestic Demand

Team FS


Key Points:

  1. India's palm oil imports surged by 74% to 7,63,300 tonnes in May compared to the previous year.
  2. The total vegetable oil imports increased to 15.29 lakh tonnes in May from 10.58 lakh tonnes in May 2023.
  3. Rising global edible oil prices due to supply disruptions have influenced domestic market dynamics.

In a significant development for the vegetable oil market, India's palm oil imports witnessed a dramatic increase of 74% in May, reaching 7,63,300 tonnes compared to 4,39,173 tonnes in the same period last year. This surge in imports is a response to escalating domestic demand, as reported by the Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) on Thursday. The overall vegetable oil imports also saw a notable rise, climbing to 15.29 lakh tonnes in May this year from 10.58 lakh tonnes in May 2023.

Breakdown of Palm Oil Imports

Palm oil continues to be a major component of India's vegetable oil imports. Within the category of palm oil, crude palm oil (CPO) imports rose to 5,32,555 tonnes in May this year, a significant increase from 3,48,118 tonnes in the corresponding period last year. Similarly, imports of RBD Palmolein surged to 2,25,746 tonnes, up from 85,205 tonnes previously. However, the imports of Crude Palm Kernel Oil (CPKO) saw a slight decline, falling to 4,999 tonnes from 5,850 tonnes a year earlier.

Other Edible Oil Imports

The trend of rising imports was not limited to palm oil. Sunflower oil imports climbed to 4,10,727 tonnes in May, up from 2,95,206 tonnes in the year-ago period. Soybean oil imports also experienced an increase, reaching 3,24,016 tonnes compared to 3,18,887 tonnes last year.

Annual Trends and Stock Levels

Despite the monthly surge, the overall palm oil imports for the first seven months of the 2023-24 marketing year, which started on November 1, showed a decrease. Palm oil imports during this period fell to 49.77 lakh tonnes from 53.48 lakh tonnes in the previous year. Soybean oil imports also declined to 85.67 lakh tonnes from 90.55 lakh tonnes.

As of June 1, India's edible oil stocks stood at 6,68,000 tonnes, indicating a substantial reserve to meet domestic requirements.

Global Factors Influencing Prices

The SEA noted that global edible oil prices surged last month due to supply disruptions in major exporting countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Russia, and Ukraine. These disruptions have created ripple effects in the domestic market, pushing up the prices of various oils, including soybean and sunflower oils.

Impact on Domestic Market and Farmers

The rising prices of soybean and sunflower oil have had a direct impact on domestic mustard prices, which have increased above the government's support level of Rs 5,650 per quintal. This price hike is incentivizing farmers to expand the oilseed area in the upcoming kharif season, potentially boosting future domestic production.

Key Suppliers to India

India relies heavily on imports to meet its vegetable oil needs. The primary suppliers of refined palmolein and CPO to India are Indonesia and Malaysia. In addition, India imports soybean oil mainly from Argentina and Brazil, and sunflower oil from Russia, Romania, Ukraine, and Argentina.


The substantial increase in India's palm oil imports in May reflects the country's growing domestic demand for vegetable oils. The significant rise in imports, particularly of crude palm oil and RBD Palmolein, underscores the importance of palm oil in India's edible oil market. While global supply disruptions have impacted prices, they have also led to strategic adjustments in domestic production plans, particularly for mustard oil. As the market dynamics continue to evolve, the role of major suppliers like Indonesia, Malaysia, Argentina, and Ukraine remains crucial in meeting India's demand for vegetable oils.

The coming months will be critical in determining how these trends impact the domestic market, pricing, and the agricultural strategies of Indian farmers. The government's support measures and the response from the agricultural sector will be pivotal in ensuring a stable supply and managing price fluctuations. The data provided by the Solvent Extractors Association offers valuable insights into these market trends and will be essential for stakeholders across the supply chain to navigate the challenges and opportunities in the vegetable oil market.

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