India's vegetable oil imports touched a record 14.61 million tonnes in 2014-15 oil year ended October, on sharp jump in shipments of palm oils buoyed by lower prices, industry body SEA said today.
The world's leading vegetable oil buyer had imported 11.82 million tonnes of vegetable oils during the previous year.
Palm oil makes up 70 per cent of the country's total vegetable oil imports. India meets 60 per cent of its annual vegetable oil demand of 17-18 million tonnes through imports.
"Import of vegetable oils in 2014-15 set a record level of 14.61 million tonnes, up 23.64 per cent from last year," Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors' Association (SEA) said in a statement.
Excess supply of vegetable oils in the global market at low prices and zero export duty by Indonesia and Malaysia boosted imports, it said.
Besides, domestic demand remained robust during the year on account of rise in local consumption of edible oil due to increase in per capita consumption and population growth.
Also, lesser availability of local oils in view of fall in domestic oilseed production following deficit rains in last two years also created demand, it added.
According to SEA, the 2014-15 oil year has set a record for highest import of palm products as well as soft oils like soyabean, sunflower and rapeseed (canola) oils.
Palm oil imports rose 20 per cent to 9.54 million tonnes in 2014-15 from 7.96 million tonnes last year. Similarly, soft oils imports jumped 33 per cent to 4.88 million tonnes from 3.66 million tonnes last year.
"India has imported highest quantity of soyabean (2.98 million tonnes), sunflower (1.54 million tonnes) and rapeseed oils (3,56,000 tonnes) this year due to their attractive prices", SEA noted.
In October alone, vegetable oils imports rose 34 per cent to 1.67 million tonnes from 1.24 million tonnes in 2013- 14 oil year.
The import of palm products in October was highest in any single month. Similarly, import of edible oils in October remained highest in any single month since allowed in open general licence route in 1994, SEA added.
India imports palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia and a small quantity of crude soft oils, including soyabean oil from Latin America. Sunflower oil is imported from Ukraine and Russia.