Palm oil falls onto a filtering screen in a tank inside a processing facility. (Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg)

India Palm Oil Imports Climb for Ninth Month on Festive Boost

(Bloomberg) -- India’s palm oil imports climbed for a ninth month in October as traders and refiners increased purchases to meet demand for festivals.

Imports advanced 1.1 percent from a year earlier to 747,658 metric tons, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India said in a statement on Tuesday. That compares with a median estimate of 755,000 tons in a Bloomberg survey. Total vegetable oil purchases, including sunflower oil and those for industrial use, declined 0.5 percent to 1.17 million tons, the association said.

Palm oil climbed 4.5 percent in October, the most since July, on demand from India and China. Buying generally picks up in India, the world’s biggest importer, as Hindus celebrate major holidays such as Dussehra and Diwali between September and November. Vegetable oils are an important part of the festivities as consumption of sweets and fried foods increases.

India Palm Oil Imports Climb for Ninth Month on Festive Boost

Soybean oil imports slumped 21 percent to 220,200 tons in October from a year earlier. The country buys soybean oil mainly from the U.S., Brazil and Argentina. Sunflower oil purchases surged 33 percent to 128,791 tons, the association said.

Palm oil imports climbed 10 percent to 9.29 million tons in the year ended Oct. 31 from a year earlier, according to the association. Soybean oil imports dropped 22 percent in the period to 3.32 million tons, while sunflower oil imports increased 43 percent to 2.17 million tons, it said.

“Imports of edible oil have sharply increased in the last few years due to stagnant oilseed production and rising demand in the country,” the association said in an emailed statement, estimating purchases jumped 45 percent in the last five years. Cooking oil imports rose to 15.08 million tons in 2016-17 from 14.57 million tons a year earlier, it said. Total vegetable oil imports climbed 4.8 percent year-on-year to 15.44 million tons in 2016-17, the association said.

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