* India's edible oil output see flat to lower in 2016/17
* Higher soybean, rapeseed output keeping lid on purchases
* Purchases seen falling below last year's 14.5 mln T
By Naveen Thukral
KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 India's booming edible oil
imports are expected to decline or hold flat in the year to
October 2017, failing to grow for the first time in six years,
as near record domestic oilseed output boosts supplies, industry
India, the world's biggest edible oil importer, is expected
to purchase about 14 to 14.5 million tonnes of vegetable oil
this year, compared with 14.5 million tonnes in 2015/16.
"We are going to have an additional 1.15 million tonnes of
edible oil this year. It's because of higher soybean production
last year and expectations of a bumper rapeseed crop which will
be harvested in the coming months," said Sandeep Bajoria, chief
executive of Mumbai-based brokerage Sun Win Group.
India's edible oil purchases - mainly palm oil from Malaysia
and Indonesia and soybean oil from Argentina - have risen each
year since 2010/11, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture
data, growing at an average of around 11 percent a year.
B.V. Mehta, executive director of Solvent Extractors
Association of India estimated Indian edible imports this year
will fall to around 14 million tonnes this year.
The benchmark Bursa Malaysia crude palm oil futures
fell to their lowest since early November last week on
slowing demand and the outlook for higher production, although
the market has since picked up on technicals and price gains for
rival soybean oil.
The Chicago Board of Trade soyoil futures gained 5.4
percent last week, the biggest weekly gain since late November
on expectations of higher use in biodiesel production in the
India's soybean production, harvested in October, rose to
11.5 million tonnes, up from 7.0 million tonnes a year ago, the
biggest annual output jump in more than a decade, boosting
supplies and dragging down prices.
Rapeseed production is forecast to rise to 7 million tonnes,
from 5.8 million tonnes a year ago, Sun Win's Bajoria said.
India's soybean oil imports are expected to decline to 3.4
million tonnes from 4.3 million tonnes a year ago because of
ample domestic supplies, Bajoria said, while palm oil imports
are forecast to rise to 8.75 million tonnes this year from 8.35
(Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Additional reporting by Gavin
Maguire; Editing by Emily Chow and Richard Pullin)