Edible oil imports rose 8 per cent year-on-year in March to 11.35 lakh tonnes, industry body SEA on Friday said and demanded that the duty difference between crude palm oil and refined palm oil should be increased to protect domestic refineries. The Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) in a statement said edible oil imports rose to 11,35,600 tonnes in March from 10,51,698 tonnes in the year-ago period.
Imports of non-edible oil fell to 36,693 tonnes in March from 52,872 tonnes in the same month last year. The total imports of vegetable oils (edible oils and non-edible oils) went up 6 per cent to 11,72,293 tonnes in March from 11,04,570 tonnes a year ago.
From November 2022 to March 2023, imports of edible oils rose to 69,80,365 tonnes from 56,42,918 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous oil marketing year. The oil marketing year runs from November to October. Imports of non-edible oils fell to 79,828 tonnes in the first five months of the 2022-23 oil year from 1,52,810 tonnes in the year-ago period.
The overall import of vegetable oils during the first five months of the oil year 2022-23 rose 22 per cent to 70,60,193 tonnes compared to 57,95,728 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous year. "The sharp increase in import of RBD (refined) palmolein in first five months of current oil year reported at 9.89 lakh tonnes, nearly 22 per cent of total palm oil import, depriving domestic industry for capacity utilisation," SEA said in a statement.
India’s palm refining industry is heavily suffering from very low capacity utilisation due to excessive import of RBD Palmolein and getting transformed into mere packers, it added. "The duty difference between CPO (crude palm oil) and Refined Palmolein/Palm Oil needs to be increased from the current 7.5 per cent to at least 15 per cent...," the association said.
From November 2022 to March 2023, the import of palm products sharply increased due to price parity at 43,99,128 tonnes compared to 26,53,253 tonnes in the year-ago period. The share of palm oil increased to 63 per cent from 47 per cent.