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India's 2012/13 edible oil imports to surge to record-expert

Date: 22-09-2012
Subject: India's 2012/13 edible oil imports to surge to record-expert
(Reuters) - India's edible oil imports should rise 5.4 percent to a record 10.31 million tonnes in 2012/13, with the entire increase met by palm oil, a leading industry official said on Friday.

Poor monsoon rains are keeping local output flat as population growth and increased wealth expand demand in the world's top edible oil importer, Govindbhai G. Patel, managing partner of GG Patel & Nikhil Research Co., said at the Globoil India Conference here.

Higher purchases from India could support benchmark Malaysian palm oil prices, which tumbled on Friday to an 11-month low on rising inventories.

India's palm oil imports in the year starting Nov. 1, 2012 are likely to climb to 8.1 million tonnes from 7.5 million tonnes estimated for the current year, Patel, a former head of the Solvent Extractors' Association of India, said.

The south Asian country fulfils more than half of its edible oil requirement through imports, mainly palm oil produced in Malaysia and Indonesia.

A rising population and increased prosperity in the world's second most populous country will boost its edible oil demand to 17.1 million tonnes in 2012/13 from 16.42 million tonnes estimated for the current year, Patel said.

India's 1.2 billion population is growing at around 1.6 percent per year, according to government data, while the economy should expand by about 6.5 percent this fiscal year.

Supplies of local edible oil are likely to rise marginally to 6.84 million tonnes in 2012/13 as an expected rise in rapeseed output offsets a poor groundnut crop, Patel said.

Despite the poor rainfall early in the June to September monsoon season, which threatened a drought, India is likely to produce 10.7 million tonnes of soybean in 2012/13, up 7 percent, Patel said.

India is a leading oilmeal exporter in Asia and there had been fears any hit to its output would exacerbate supply tightness caused by lower soybean production in South America this year and a drought in the United States.

Monsoon rains have revived since the last week of August with four straight weeks of above average rains until Sept. 19, ensuring healthy downpours over the soybean growing areas in central India.

The annual rains are vital for the 55 percent of India's farmland that is without irrigation.

The rainfall is also set to help the country's main winter-sown oilseed and rapeseed crop, with production potentially rising by nearly a quarter to 6.5 million tonnes.

"As farmers have realised excellent prices and late rains are also better ... the area under rapeseed may increase to 6.8-7 million hectares," Patel said.

But despite heavier rainfall in August and September, output of groundnut is expected to drop by nearly a third to 2.7 million tonnes as key groundnut growing areas in Gujarat state remained parched for a longer period.

"Groundnut area reported by government is 3.81 million hectares, but harvested area may be 3.53 million hectares due to failure of sown crop particularly in Gujarat," he said.

Source : in.reuters.com

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