By Rajendra Jadhav
PANAJI, India, Sept 21 India's palm oil imports
in 2016/17 are likely to rise 9 percent to 9.24 million tonnes
from a year earlier, as a growing population and higher income
levels drive up edible oil consumption, a leading industry
analyst said on Wednesday.
Higher purchases by India, the world's biggest importer of
cooking oils, could further push up benchmark palm oil prices
, which are already trading near a five-month high.
"Per capita consumption (of edible oils) has been rising due
to the growth in population and rising income levels," trade
expert and managing director of trading firm G.G. Patel & Nikhil
Research Company, Govindbhai Patel, told an industry conference
in the tourist state of Goa.
India's edible oil consumption is likely to grow 6.25
percent to 22.1 million tonnes in the year to October 2017,
Patel said in his presentation.
A jump in demand will lift India's annual edible oil imports
by 6.2 percent to a record 15.5 million tonnes in 2016/17.
In the current 2015/16 year, palm oil imports are expected
to drop to 8.47 million tonnes from a record 9.54 million tonnes
a year earlier, as the rally in prices of the tropical oil
prompted buyers to switch to rival soyoil.
Patel said output of summer-sown oilseeds was set to rise 34
percent to 14.5 million tonnes, mainly due to a 36 percent jump
in soybean production after plentiful monsoon rains in India.
Soybean production is estimated at 9.5 million tonnes, up
from 7 million tonnes a year earlier.
The rise in soybean production will keep the country's
soyoil imports steady at 4.2 million tonnes in 2016/17, he said.
India buys palm oil, which forms the bulk of its vegetable
oil imports, from Malaysia and Indonesia and some soyoil from
Brazil and Argentina. It also imports small amounts of sunflower
oil and canola oil.
The country's production of rapeseed, the main winter-sown
oilseed, is expected to rise 6.3 million tonnes, up 12.5 percent
from a year earlier, Patel said.
(Editing by Malini Menon and Mark Potter)