FarmPolicy

July 23, 2017

India’s Imports of Soybean Oil are Surging– Importing More than China

Vibhuti Agarwal reported on Saturday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “Indians are acquiring a strong taste for soybean oil thanks to lower prices, fueling a surge in imports at a helpful time for a global market struggling with a glut of the commodity.

India’s imports of soybean oil have quadrupled in the last five years to more than 4 million metric tons this year, according to data compiled by the country’s vegetable oils industry body. India’s soybean oil imports are expected to rise over the next 10 years by as much as 40%, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated in May.”

The Journal article stated that, “India dethroned China two years ago as the world’s largest importer of soy oil. Some Indian consumers who have switched to soy oil cited the steep drop in prices—35% since 2012. Prices of palm oil, its main rival used widely in restaurants and by poorer Indians, have mostly been moving sideways.”

Agarwal added that, “The global soybean-oil market has been slumping for two years, as bumper harvests of soybeans everywhere from America to Argentina coincided with a decline in imports by China stemming from rising domestic production. Soybean production around the globe will increase about 5.6% to 330.43 million tons from last year’s 312.97 million tons, the USDA forecast.”

In addition to a growing middle class that can afford soybean oil, India’s increase in imports reflect a multiyear drop in domestic production. That decline was especially pronounced last year, when production of soybeans fell nearly 20% to its lowest in more than a decade after poor monsoon rains and pest attacks hit yields,” the Journal article said.

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