Edible oil demand likely to decline amid COVID-19 lockdown

Hotel, Restaurants and Cafeterias (HoReCa) segment accounts for 40 per cent of the country's total edible oil demand at 230 lakh tonnes annually.

Edible oil imports and processing activities have also slowed down, but there is sufficient stock in the country to meet domestic demand, Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) Executive Director B V Mehta told PTI.

"Our monthly consumption of edible oil is 18-19 lakh tonnes per month. The demand will certainly fall as hotels, restaurants and cafeterias have closed down," Mehta said.

He, however, said it would be difficult to estimate the extent of fall as household consumption might increase slightly during lockdown period.

Mehta said imports of vegetable oils (comprising edible and non edible oil) too have slowed down, but there is no concern about availability.

"We have sufficient stock of imported oil. Local production of mustard oil is happening. Harvesting of mustard crop is going on in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, so all local processing mills are operating," Mehta said.

He said there is some labour shortage and logistics issues but those are getting sorted out.

India's total demand for edible oil is around 230 lakh tonnes annually, which is largely being met through imports.

The country imports palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia, while shipments of soyabean come from Argentina and Brazil.

India's vegetable oil imports increased by 3.5 per cent to 155.5 lakh tonnes in 2018-19 marketing year (November-October).

While shipments of edible oil increased to 149.13 lakh tonnes in the 2018-19 marketing year from 145.16 lakh tonnes in the previous year, the imports of non-edible oil grew to 6,36,159 tonnes from 5,09,748 tonnes during the period under review.

During the November 2019 to February 2020 period of the current oil year, imports have fallen by 6.1 per cent to 45,63,791 tonnes compared to 48,62,849 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous year.

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