Bags of imported palmolein oil are stored at a warehouse of a cooking oil wholesaler in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg)

Top Palm Buyer Seen Cutting Imports for Fourth Month on Rupee

(Bloomberg) -- India’s palm oil imports probably dropped for a fourth month in August as a collapse in the currency of the world’s biggest buyer lowered demand.

Purchases declined 2.1 percent from a year earlier to 850,863 metric tons, according to the median of five estimates in a Bloomberg survey of processors, brokers and analysts. The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India is expected to release trade numbers in the middle of September.

A weaker rupee discouraged some Indian buyers from purchasing palm oil, said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive officer of Sunvin Group, a Mumbai-based broker and consultant for the oilseeds industry.

India’s currency fell below 72 per dollar last week, taking its decline since the beginning of the year to almost 12 percent, making it the worst performer in Asia. The decline pushed up costs for palm importers.

Soybean oil purchases, mainly from the U.S., Brazil and Argentina, climbed 8.7 percent from a year earlier to 315,000 tons, the survey showed. Sunflower oil imports probably rose 50 percent to 200,000 tons, while canola oil imports were estimated at 20,000 tons. Total vegetable oil imports rose 1 percent to 1.38 million tons, the survey showed.

A drop in premium of other oils over palm made soybean and sunflower oil imports attractive, said Gnanasekar Thiagarajan, head of trading and hedging strategies at Kaleesuwari Intercontinental.

ImportsAugust 2018 (Survey)July 2018 (SEA)August 2017 (SEA)
Palm oil850,863550,180868,744
Soybean oil315,000352,325289,746
Sunflower oil200,000139,174133,396
Total Vegetable oil1,375,0001,119,5381,361,272

NOTE: Figures in metric tons

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.