New Delhi: After the Ukraine crisis, Russia and Argentina have emerged as major suppliers of sunflower oil to India as imports of the cooking oil jumped 89.6 per cent to 1.35 lakh tonnes in August, according to Solvent Extractors Association.
India, the world's leading vegetable oil buyer, is dependent on imports of sunflower oil, which constitutes 16 per cent of the total edible oil imports.
Before the Russia-Ukraine crisis, 70 per cent of the sunflower oil imported by India used to come from Ukraine, while 20 per cent from Russia. But imports have been severely affected after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in late February this year.
"Russia and Argentina turn to be major suppliers of sunflower oil to India," industry body Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) said in a statement.
In August this year, India imported about 1,35,000 tonnes of sunflower oil mainly from Russia, and Argentina and a small quantity from Turkey, which was 89.6 per cent higher than 71,340 tonnes in the same month of the previous year, it said.
Of the total sunflower oil imports, the shipments from Russia increased to 72,780 tonnes in August this year, from 28,840 tonnes in the year-ago period.
Similarly, the import of sunflower oil from Argentina increased to 30,600 tonnes in August this year from 12,500 tonnes in the year-ago period. About 14,588 tonnes has been imported from Turkey in August.
Whereas in August 2021, the country had imported 30,000 tonnes of sunflower oil from Ukraine, the SEA data showed.
According to SEA, India's major imports comprise palm oil and its shipment jumped by 32.64 per cent to 9,94,997 tonnes in August this year, as against 7,50,134 tonnes in the year-ago period.
Among palm oil products, the import of RBD palmolein rose 7.84 per cent to 2.02 lakh tonnes in August this year, from 1.87 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.
The import of CPO rose sharply by 42 per cent to 7.82 lakh tonnes from 5.50 lakh tonnes, while that of crude palm kernel oil (CPKO) declined to 10200 tonnes from 11,903 tonnes in the said period. Among soft oils, the import of soyabean oil increased 2.44 lakh tonnes in August this year, as against 1.82 lakh tonnes in the same period of the previous year.
Sunflower oil too falls under the soft oil category.
The country's total vegetable oil imports also increased by 33 per cent to 14,01,233 tonnes in August this year, compared to 10,53,810 tonnes in the year-ago period.
According to the SEA, import of RBD palmolein remained higher than the last year's level mainly due to the high export levy on crude palm oil (CPO) and lower duty on RBD Palmolein which favoured Indonesian exporters to discount RBD Palmolein to push its export. RBD palmolein constitutes 12 per cent of total India's import of edible oils, which was just two per cent last year, it said.
Also, the falling international prices of edible oils in the last four months favoured India which is dependent on imports of edible oils to meet much of its domestic demand, it added.
The SEA said edible oils stock as of September 1 this year, was estimated to have been at 6.11 lakh tonnes and about 18.25 lakh tonnes were in the pipeline.
India imports palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, and a small quantity of crude soft oil, including soyabean oil from Argentina.